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Exoplanet Camera Now Online 47

The Bad Astronomer writes with news that the Gemini Planet Imager is officially online "The Gemini Planet Imager is a camera that is designed to take direct photos of exoplanets, alien worlds orbiting other stars. In a test run last November it spotted the exoplanet Beta Pictoris b, a dusty ring around a nearby star, and even snapped a portrait of Jupiter's moon Europa. Up to now, only about a dozen exoplanets have been directly imaged; GPI is expected to find dozens more in the next few years." From the Gemini project: "'Even these early first-light images are almost a factor of 10 better than the previous generation of instruments. In one minute, we are seeing planets that used to take us an hour to detect,' says Bruce Macintosh of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who led the team that built the instrument." The announcement has pictures.
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Exoplanet Camera Now Online

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  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:11PM (#45888707) Journal
    Oh! Sure. They can take images of planets light years away, against the light pollution of the planet's sun, but somehow they don't have the resolving power to image the license plate on the lunar rover to silence the moon landing deniers.
    • Re:Oh! Sure.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:17PM (#45888773)

      Oh! Sure. They can take images of planets light years away, against the light pollution of the planet's sun, but somehow they don't have the resolving power to image the license plate on the lunar rover to silence the moon landing deniers.

      They would just claim that the pics of the landing sites were photoshopped so why bother entertaining their delusion?

    • there is such a photo, taken at the site where they faked the landing. 8D

  • by TWiTfan ( 2887093 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:13PM (#45888733)

    One of the first pictures we snapped was of a totally unnecessary gesture from a very impolite world in the Andromeda region.

  • All These Worlds Are Yours Except
    Attempt No
    Landing There
    Use Them Together
    Use Them In Peace
  • Just tell me where the cheese is.

  • FTFA:

    GPI is an international project led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)

    Good to see international cooperation on a project like this. No reason for the US to go it alone.

  • Breathtaking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @02:45PM (#45889989) Journal

    Well done, GPI team.

    I don't know about you, but for me this is absolutely thrilling. We're no longer inferring the existence of other planets, we're actually LOOKING at them.

    The word "breathtaking" doesn't cover it.

    And from a ground-based camera...I knew imaging tech is leaping ahead, but this makes me absolutely excited to see what the GPI (and eventually, hopefully, the JWST) will see over the next years.

    • This is a very interesting moment in time. At this rate of development, it is quite possible that in a decade or two we'd have full spectrographic analysis of the atmospheres of a handful of words. This might not be the ones best suited to sustain life, but we might get to those as well. Can't wait!

    • And from a ground-based camera...

      Oh, wait, what?! And here I was remarking that the image of Europa was fantastic for an Earth-orbit telescope.

      I'll see your 'breathtaking' and raise you one 'astonishing'.

  • How far we've come (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @03:12PM (#45890325)
    The first exoplanet found orbiting a main sequence star was discovered on 6 October 1995, around 51 Pegasi. []

    It was only detected by gravitational wobble. Prior to that psuedo-exoplanets had been discovered but they involved non-solar system type objects such as pulsars. After the 1995 discovery, scientists slowly made more discoveries based on planetary wobble. At that time, the ability to take pictures like what we have seen in this article seemed farther flung into the future than we are now - if possible at all. But science is persistent and new technologies were developed fast. Now here we are imaging planets as they orbit their stars and the technology to image them continues to accelerate and advance at breakneck speed. If the development of scientific instruments were a race, planet finding and the LHC would at least be neck and neck if not having planet find slightly in the lead. There is preliminary work going on that promises views of extrasolar planets at resolutions as high as viewing the moons of the outer planets with our best telescopes - some say it may be possible to image planets with the resolution of looking back at the Earth from the moon. Is there no obstacle to discovery science cannot overcome? Time will tell. These new ultra-resolution planet find tools are hoped to be developed and ready by 2025, When I consider how far we have come and fast fast, I am inclined to believe we may actually get those images in that timeframe - despite how far fetched that kind of resolution may seem today.
  • Oh, by online they mean plugged in. Not online as in accessible to anyone via the internet, right?
  • You mean it has muscles?

  • These pictures are 6px by 6px. With 30 or so pixels squared you can start to really make out stuff. Compare to our recent Juno probe's view of the Earth Moon system [] as it passed us on it's way to Jupiter (it will go past us twice).

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.