December 10, 2008
Hubble finds CO2 on extrasolar planet
The U.S. space agency says its Hubble Space Telescope has discovered carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said the discovery is an important step toward finding chemical biotracers of extraterrestrial life.
Hubble was conceived primarily for observations of the distant universe, yet it is opening a new era of astrophysics and comparative planetary science, said Eric Smith, NASA's Hubble program scientist.
These atmospheric studies will begin to determine the compositions and chemical processes operating on distant worlds orbiting other stars. The future for this newly opened frontier of science is extremely promising as we expect to discover many more molecules in exoplanet atmospheres.