Baltimore astronomers will help NASA understand newly discovered exoplanets - Technical.ly Baltimore

Sciences

Feb. 23, 2017 7:54 am

Baltimore astronomers will help NASA understand newly discovered exoplanets

The Space Telescope Science Institute at Johns Hopkins is providing atmospheric observations of the planets that make up Trappist-1.

Get ready to hear more about Trappist-1.

(Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The big news of NASA’s discovery of a system of seven Earth-like exoplanets had most of the internet ready to sign up for a trip off this rock.

We don’t blame you. After all, the system is a “relatively close” 40 light years (235 trillion miles) away. The names seem made to pull you into its orbit. The planets make up a system called Trappist-1. The star is an ultra-cool dwarf. Plus, the space agency’s rollout was accompanied with a marketing campaign that screams, “Get me to a new habitable zone.”

Trappist-1 poster. (Image via NASA)

Trappist-1 poster. (Image via NASA)

But we are a bit more tied to Earthly concerns. At this ultra-terrestrial hyperlocal tech news site, we must ask one question: “How is Baltimore involved?”

So here’s the deal: The discovery of the seven planets was made primarily by the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) and confirmed by the Spitzer Space Telescope. But it’s a big operation that pulled in lots of telescopes, including the Hubble.

Luckily, we have the science operations center for the Hubble right over near Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Campus. That’s the home base for the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

In studying two of the exoplanets, the Hubble team already made a key observation that these planets did not have puffy, gaseous atmospheres. Now they will be looking deeper, and the study will continue when STScI transitions to the next-generation James Webb Space Telescope. STScI astronomer Nikole Lewis was at NASA’s press conference on Wednesday, and said she is looking forward to studying the atmospheres of the other planets.

Advertisement

The discovery “provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets,” she said.

And there may be more discoveries to come.

-30-
JOIN THE COMMUNITY, BECOME A MEMBER
Already a member? Sign in here

Advertisement

UB’s PoeGrammers created augmented reality for spacewalks. Now they’re bringing it to NASA

4 JHU professors received the Bisciotti Foundation Translational Fund’s first grants

AURP’s Brian Darmody looks to make College Park office a hub for research parks

SPONSORED

Baltimore

How SmartLogic accelerated these startups’ product growth trajectories

Philadelphia, PA

Orthly

Full-Stack Javascript Engineer

Apply Now
Baltimore, MD 21201

14 West

Chief of Staff

Apply Now
Baltimore, MD

SmartLogic

Product Designer

Apply Now

Survey shows extent of web browser–based cyber threats

Under Armour’s next frontier: space suits

Columbia research center forms Earth from Space Institute

SPONSORED

Baltimore

This fast-growing SaaS company aims to be a force for change in the energy industry

Baltimore

Technically Media

Technical.ly Baltimore Contributing Reporter (Contract or Freelance)

Apply Now
Baltimore, MD

SmartLogic

Developer

Apply Now
Baltimore, MD 21201

14 West

Application Security Engineer (Pen Tester)

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Baltimore

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!