By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
NASA has mapped the clouds of an alien world for the first time ever, taking the first step towards finding a planet with a human-friendly atmosphere. With the Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes, the agency used infrared light (which is normally invisible to us) to measure the planet’s temperature.
Brice-Olivier Demory, a lead author of the study from MIT, said, “By observing this planet with Spitzer and Kepler for more than three years, we were able to produce a very low-resolution ‘map’ of this giant, gaseous planet. We wouldn’t expect to see oceans or continents on this type of world, but we detected a clear, reflective signature that we interpreted as clouds.”
While NASA has found several possible earth-like planets, they’re now focusing on getting to know them more closely. Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division, says, “With Spitzer and Kepler together, we have a multi-wavelength tool for getting a good look at planets that are trillions of miles away.”
Images and video courtesy of NASA.