NASA Discovers Atmosphere Of Planet 1,000 Light Years From Earth

Posted Aug 11, 2009

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has made an interesting discovery.  Using their Kepler space telescope, NASA has discovered the atmosphere of a planet that is 1,000 light years away from Earth.  This planet orbits its own star just like how the Earth orbits the Sun.

The data was collected from HAT-P-7, an extrasolar planet that astronomers have labeled “Hot Jupiter.”  NASA said that this discovery demonstrates the amazing abilities that the Kepler space telescope has in finding information despite how far objects are.  The Kepler space telescope deliberately seeks out objects that are similar to Earth in size and are located at a distance from the Sun that makes it possible to have water on the planet.

The Kepler space telescope will keep looking for these extrasolar planets over the next three years.  It was launched this past March from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The Kepler space telescope detects the existence of the objects by detecting the dips in brightness of the stars.  This occurs when orbiting planets travel across the face of its sun.  It takes planet Earth 365 days to orbit the Sun, but it takes HAT-P-7 only 2.2 days to orbit its own sun.  Talk about a constant shifting in seasons! HAT-P-7 is 26 times closer to its Sun compared to Earth.

[via InformationWeek]