Planets and Moons  Universe  ID: 10679

Using Color to Search for Alien Earths

NASA astronomer Lucy McFadden and UCLA graduate Carolyn Crow recently made a discovery that will help identify characteristics of extrasolar planets, such as the compositions of their surfaces and atmospheres. By comparing the reflected red, blue, and green light from planets in our solar system, a team led by Crow and McFadden was able to group the planets according to their similarities. As it turns out, the planets fall into very distinct regions on this plot, where the vertical direction indicates the relative amount of blue light, and the horizontal direction the relative amount of red light.

This technique works even when the source of the reflected light is visible only as a point, like exoplanets appear when observed through a telescope. Therefore, scientists can use it to identify earthlike planets more easily.

 

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For More Information

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/planet-colors.html


Credits

Scott Wiessinger (UMBC): Animator
Chris Smith (UMBC): Animator
Dan Maas (Maas Digital): Animator
Scott Wiessinger (UMBC): Video Editor
Scott Wiessinger (UMBC): Producer
Carolyn Crow (UMD): Scientist
Lucy McFadden (UMD): Scientist
Rob Andreoli (AIMM): Videographer
Daniel Pendick (SP Systems): Writer
Francis Reddy (SPSYS): Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/10679

This item is part of this series:
Narrated Movies

Goddard TV Tape:
G2010-100 -- Planet Color

Keywords:
SVS >> Comet
SVS >> Earth
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Jupiter
SVS >> Mars
DLESE >> Space science
SVS >> Venus
SVS >> Astrophysics
SVS >> Planets
DLESE >> Narrated
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons
NASA Science >> Universe
SVS >> Exoplanet