Taking a Closer Look at Exoplanet Atmospheres
Nov. 12 & 13
The last two years have seen extraordinary progress in the field of detecting and characterizing the atmospheres of planets circling stars other than the sun. This progress has been aided by the rapid discovery rate for these bodies, called exoplanets, together with powerful new methods that now enable detailed atmospheric characterization. Recent successes include a "map" of atmospheric temperature and the detection of molecules in an exoplanet’s atmosphere. Today, existing instruments enable us to determine the atmospheric composition and weather of some exoplanets. This rapid and remarkable process is building rapidly towards the next step; in the very near future, it is probable that we will be able to detect molecules that represent the building blocks of life on an exoplanet positioned in a star’s “habitable zone.” This talk will tell the story of the journey from the discovery of exoplanets to current efforts to detect organic molecules in exoplanet atmospheres.
Dr. Mark Swain
Jet Propulsion Laboratory