Latest Terrestrial Planet Finder Stories
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has for the first time captured the light from two known planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. The findings mark the beginning of a new age of planetary science, in which "extrasolar" planets can be directly measured and compared.
Some extrasolar planets may be made substantially from carbon compounds, including diamond, according to a report presented this week at the conference on extrasolar planets in Aspen, Colorado. Earth, Mars and Venus are "silicate planets" consisting mostly of silicon-oxygen compounds. Astrophysicists are proposing that some stars in our galaxy may host "carbon planets" instead.
A team of astronomers from the U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO), Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have successfully used the ultra high-resolution capability of the Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer (NPOI) to track the orbit of a binary star invisible to other ground- and space-based optical telescopes.
Standing about waist high and weighing a chunky 318 kilograms (700 pounds), the rotund robot looks more like something from "Star Wars" than "Shall We Dance?" Yet, as it floats on a paper-thin cushion of air, it is testing the initial moves in a complex choreography that researchers eventually plan to execute in space as part of the search for Earthlike planets.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory -- Recipe: Take a rocky mass [about 12.8 thousand kilometers (nearly 8 thousand miles) wide], add carbon dioxide, water vapor and methane. Place in stable, circular orbit, the same distance from a sunlike star as the distance between Earth and the Sun.
Terrestrial Planet Finder -- The Terrestrial Planet Finder is a proposed NASA telescope system capable of detecting extrasolar terrestrial planets. In May 2002, NASA chose two TPF mission architecture concepts for further study and technology development. Each would use a different means to achieve the same goal - to block the light from a parent star in order to see its much smaller, dimmer planets. That technology challenge has been likened to finding a firefly near the beam of...
Terrestrial Planet -- A terrestrial planet is a planet that is mostly composed of silicate rocks and may or may not have a relatively thin atmosphere. The term is derived from the Greek word for Earth, so an alternate definition would be those planets that are more Earth-like than not. Terrestrial planets are very different from gas giants, which may or may not have solid surfaces and are composed mostly of hydrogen and helium in various physical states. Only one terrestrial planet,...