by Staff Writers
Seattle (UPI) Sep 9, 2010
A U.S. space telescope set for launch in 2014 could reveal the presence of oceans on planets outside the solar system, scientists say.
Detecting water on Earth-like planets would offer the tantalizing prospect they could sustain life, and scientists hope the reflection of light, or "glint", from mirror-like ocean surfaces could be picked up by the upcoming generation of space telescopes, the BBC reported Thursday.
Tyler Robinson at the University of Washington in Seattle said he thinks the new technique could be used in the search for the "holy grail" for exoplanet astronomy, a possible sister planet to Earth.
"We're focusing on a class of extra-solar planets yet to be detected, things comparable in size and composition to the Earth and similar distances from their central star as the Earth is from the Sun," he said. "The goal is to find something Earth-like in almost every sense of the world so we can even prove it has liquid oceans on its surface."
Robinson said he hopes "glint" -- the effect seen when light is reflected from an ocean's surface -- may reveal the presence of Earth-like planets beyond our cosmic neighborhood.
Presently, clues like tell-tale glint spots are vital to finding Earth-like planets because astronomers are decades away from being able to directly image the surface of these alien worlds 20 or 30 light-years away.
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|