Latest Space Interferometry Mission Stories
Many scientists speculate that our galaxy could be full of places like Pandora from the movie "Avatar" -- Earth-like worlds in solar systems besides our own.
Astronomers have snapped a picture of three planets orbiting a star beyond our own using a modest-sized telescope on the ground.
As the manager of the Michelson Science Center at Caltech, Imel coordinates a team of scientists and engineers whose goal is to find the elusive Earthlike planet.
Astronomers at NASA's JPL have recently concluded that the upcoming planet-finding mission, SIM PlanetQuest, would be able to detect an Earth-like planet around the star 40 Eridani, a planet familiar to "Star Trek" fans as "Vulcan."
More than a decade after the first planets beyond our solar system were found, astronomers have discovered about 200 of these "extrasolar planets," as they're called.
Where are the other Earths? Answering that question is just the first step in NASA's long-range quest to look for life around stars beyond our solar system, according to Dr. Wesley Traub. And to answer it, he says, we have to go into space.
Employing a similar principle, a team led by Andrew Gould of Ohio State University will hunt for hard-to-see celestial objects, like black holes and dark matter, by observing how they affect light coming from stars behind them.
It is the job of astronomers to put numbers on the stupefying vastness of space and the objects it holds. That's how they get the universe to spill its secrets. The SIM PlanetQuest space telescope will lay the foundation for a real-life guide to the galaxy.
Are we alone in the universe? Are there planets like Earth around other "suns" that might harbor life? Thanks to a recent technology breakthrough on a key NASA planet-finding project, the dream of answering those questions is no longer light-years away.
Most extrasolar planets discovered so far are "hot Jupiters," gas giants orbiting close to their parent stars. But according to current theory, such planets should form much farther from their stars, where temperatures are cold enough for water and other volatiles to freeze. How will scientists find the answer this mystery?
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