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February 07, 2013

Mapping exoplanets

"Astronomers are developing a system to use reflected starlight to create maps of alien planets that show oceans, land and even clouds."

Developed by planetary scientist Nicolas Cowan and presented this month at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, California, it is inspired by a technique originally developed to distinguish between natural surfaces – such as forests – and unnatural ones like military bunkers in satellite images of Earth.

The software can take a point of reflected starlight from an exoplanet, and analyse it to extract the unique signals required to form a rough map.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at February 7, 2013 06:47 AM