Red, green and blue colours are best to find Earth-like planets

Thursday, February 24, 2011

WASHINGTON - A team of astronomers has found that red, green and blue coloured filters are the best to spot a planet that looks like Earth.

Scientists used the mothership of NASA’s recycled Deep Impact comet probe to look at light reflected off Earth, the moon and Mars. They also extrapolated from previous studies of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, the moon and Saturn’s moon Titan.

They then ran all the data through a computer to see if there was a combination of colours unique to Earth.

“We had seven filters, from ultraviolet to infrared. We tried different combinations to see which was the best at picking at Earth,” Discovery News quoted Carolyn Crow, a graduate student at the University of California at Los Angeles, as saying.

The find could help cut down the rapidly growing list of extrasolar planets to those that are potentially suitable for Earth-like life.

“One of the things that have to be overcome is to be able to pick out reflected light from the planet from the light of the star. Maybe in the next 10 years or so we’ll be able to do that,” Crow said.

Ultimately, astronomers are looking at telescopes that can identify gases in an extrasolar planet’s atmosphere to see if they are similar to those on Earth. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

will not be displayed