For the first time, NASA’s space telescope, was discovered by the light from a distant "super-Earths" with a size greater than that of our own Earth in half. Astronomers call this historic achievement in space exploration.
Infrared Space Telescope NASA - Spitzer, identified light from the alien planet 55 Cancri e, which revolves around its star at a distance of 40 light years from Earth. Year on this extrasolar planet lasts only 18 hours. The planet 55 Cancri e was originally discovered in 2004 and was not considered a habitable world. Instead, she was known as super-Earths because of its large size: a planet twice the width of the Earth and has a mass about eight of our planet. But until now, researchers have never been able to detect infrared light reflected from superzemnogo world.
"Spitzer hits us again and again" - said lead Spitzer program scientist Bill Dench, of NASA Headquarters in Washington, in a statement on May 8. "Space is an unmanned spacecraft study the atmospheres of distant planets and paving the way to the next in Space Telescope James Webb Space Telescope, which will have to apply more sophisticated methods of research on potentially habitable planets."
Costing $ 770 million, NASA space telescope Spitzer, was launched in 2003 and, at present, is in the long-term mission to study the universe in infrared light. During that long mission engineers telescope changed a few settings in the space observatory to optimize its vision of extrasolar planets suitable for life, NASA scientists say.
Next, equally important, an infrared space observatory NASA - James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018. The assurances of scientists, it is potentially able to show much more detail on the planet 55 Cancri e and other similar superzemnyh planets.
"When we conceived Spitzer - more than 40 years ago - not even exoplanets have been discovered," said Michael Werner, Spitzer project coordinator of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Because Spitzer was designed very well, he was able to adapt to this new field of research and to make historical discoveries such as this."