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C02 in Space

January 28, 2009

Astronomers have detected carbon dioxide on a planet outside our solar system for the first time.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Carbon dioxide in space….I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For the first time, astronomers have detected carbon dioxide on a planet outside our solar system. The planet, called HD189733B, is located 63 light years from earth. It’s the size of Jupiter, but located much closer to its sun. Its atmosphere emits light containing the unique color signature produced only by carbon dioxide molecules. Mark Swain, an astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena says the discovery is exciting because CO2 is a basic building block of life.

MARK SWAIN (Jet Propulsion Laboratory):
And although the planet we’re looking at is much too hot for life as we know it to exist, we’ve taken a step towards our eventual goal of trying to see if life exists on other planets.

HIRSHON:
The next step is to search for carbon dioxide on smaller, cooler planets that might be capable of harboring life. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.