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Researchers Confirm Exoplanet Has Clouds Using Hubble Telescope 62

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the cloudy-with-a-chance-of-heavy-metal dept.
Exoplanet GJ 1214 b was discovered in 2009 by the MEarth project. Researchers now have strong evidence that it has an atmosphere. "[A] team of astronomers led by UChicago's Laura Kreidberg and Jacob Bean have detected clear evidence of clouds in the atmosphere of GJ 1214b from data collected with the Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble observations used 96 hours of telescope time spread over 11 months. This was the largest Hubble program ever devoted to studying a single exoplanet. ... The first spectra, which were obtained by Bean in 2010 using a ground-based telescope, suggested that the planet's atmosphere either was predominantly water vapor or hydrogen-dominated with high-altitude clouds. ... More precise Hubble observations made in 2012 and 2013 allowed the team to distinguish between these two scenarios. ... The best explanation for the new data is that there are high-altitude clouds in the atmosphere of the planet, though their composition is unknown. Models of super-Earth atmospheres predict clouds could be made out of potassium chloride or zinc sulfide at the scorching temperatures of 450 degrees Fahrenheit found on GJ 1214b."
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Researchers Confirm Exoplanet Has Clouds Using Hubble Telescope

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  • by cusco (717999) <brian.bixby@gma i l .com> on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @02:31PM (#45838277)

    I hitchhiked to Cape Canaveral for the third launch of Colombia, and went to the visitor's center there. Lying outside was a complete Saturn 5. Inside the visitor's center's museum was the matching LEM, Command Module and Rover. IIRC this was the assembly for the cancelled Apollo 19. Talking with staff at the center I found that there were three others scattered around the country, from the rest of the cancelled missions. They said that everything had been purchased and delivered for all four missions, even the fuel, and all that remained was the least expensive portion of the projects, conducting the actual missions. One of the other visitors who had joined the discussion said, "Since the only NASA and JPL would be necessary to that part there wasn't any need to fund it. Their real constituents, Boeing, Honeywell and such, had gotten their money already. Better to take the mission funding and spend it on killing brown people."

    On my way back out I looked at that enormous, glorious marvel of engineering abandoned and baking in the sun and cried. The Shuttle launch was spectacular, but that image is the one that I still remember most vividly.

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.