Similar to detective work, astronomers have found a way to unravel mysteries surrounding exoplanets by making use of ‘light-fingerprints’. The researchers at Cornell University have created a guide using geometric albedos and calibrated spectra of 19 heavenly bodies, including the 8 planets in the solar system, nine moons of different environments, and two dwarf planets, Ceres in the asteroid belt and Pluto in the Kuiper belt. Scientists are targeting a characterization of the exoplanets on the basis of the available catalog of planets with the widest range of conditions.
Lisa Kaltenegger, an associate professor of astronomy and director of the Carl Sagan Institute mentioned that the presence of a reference catalog will successfully lead to comparison of newer observations regarding exoplanets with objects in our own solar system. The catalog provides both high- as well as low-resolution versions of data, while also explaining the change of color of the 19 bodies if they had orbited around a star other than the Sun. The catalog will also help researchers in prioritizing time-intensive and high-resolution study of the extrasolar planets, while also shedding light about the difficulty in categorizing certain worlds in the absence of high-resolution spectra. Scientists state that with the impending launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Extremely Large Telescope, it is imperative to keep such a reference catalog, in the arriving age of observational ability.
With NASA entering an exciting age of Space exploration, one would normally not be mistaken if he thinks that the astronaut wardrobe will not be a factor of concern for the organization. However, the exact issue is plaguing NASA right now, with a special astronaut suit created for potential future visits to Mars and Moon conspicuous by their absence. The situation is actually grim,owing to the fact that the extravehicular activity (EVA) suits are quite bulky, with only 11 functioning properly out of the total 18, a fact made more unbelievable by the problem of the suit being available in only 3 sizes. NASA had outsourced the project to various agencies, however, very little was achieved in reality, even though prototypes were available in plenty. NASA was served a double whammy when these projects resulted in a loss of $200 million to them. With missions to Mars and deep space rapidly approaching, it seems that astronauts may be in danger of being in the dark regarding their clothing gear.