July 20th, 2012 14:41 EST
NASA`s Spitzer Telescope Discovers Exoplanet Smaller than Earth
Astronomers working overtime using NASA`s Spitzer Telescope have discovered an exoplanet that appears to be two-thirds the size of Earth. The little planet is said to be around thirty-three light years away from Earth. There have only been a handful of exoplanets found that are smaller than Earth, so this little guy has become the center of attention for NASA`s Astronomers.
Exoplanets are normally found inside our solar system circling stars beyond the sun. So, they are very elusive but this particular exoplanet is known has UCF-1.01 and has made celebrity status. NASA`s Spitzer telescope has performed many studies in the past on what was known as possible exoplanets but this is the first time Spitzer has identified a known exoplanet which now takes Spritzers role to the next level in helping to find our next Earth or at least in helping to find habitable planets in our solar system.
Kevin Stevenson from the University of Central Florida in Orlando who is the lead author for the paper titled The Astrophysical Journal said, "We have found strong evidence for a very small, very hot and very near planet with the help of the Spitzer Space Telescope. " He went on to say, "Identifying nearby small planets such as UCF-1.01 may one day lead to their characterization using future instruments." (Stevenson, K., 2012)
Michael Werner, Spitzer Project Scientist at NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California said, "I hope future observations will confirm these exciting results, which show Spitzer may be able to discover exoplanets as small as Mars. Even after almost nine years in space, Spitzer`s observations continue to take us in new and important scientific directions." (Werner, M, 2012)
NASA`s Spitzer telescope has become a very valuable asset in space exploration and in discovering many bits and pieces like exoplanets that gives Astronomers and scientist new information about our solar system and how many entities in the solar system can benefit us humans in the future and beyond.
While we are on the subject of exoplanets some of you may not have an idea of what an exoplanet really is. The term exoplanet is just an abbreviated short name for the real name. The real name is an extrasolar planet. More and more extrasolar planets are being discovered and it is estimated that out of the one-hundred billion stars that shine bright in the galaxy that at least one star harbors at least 1.6 extrasolar planets. The planets are normally outside the sun.
One of the main aspects of searching for extrasolar planets is for the sustainability of being able to host life so all the elements temperature, water, environment, etc. has to be looked at when one extrasolar planet is discovered and depending on where the extrasolar planet may be will depend on the adaptability for hosting life. NASA continues the study of exoplanets or extrasolar planets and the hunt for the right one.
NASA`S SPITZER FINDS EVIDENCE FOR AN EXOPLANET SMALLER THAN EARTH, (www.nasa.gov) The quotes used in my article are form this article. Retrieved 2012.