Hubble Detects Organic Molecule on an Extrasolar Planet

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2008


NASA will hold a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 19, to report on the first-ever detection of the organic molecule methane in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting a distant star.

Though the planet is too hot to support life as we know it, the finding demonstrates the ability to detect organic molecules spectroscopically around Earth-like planets in habitable zones around stars.

Briefing participants are:

-- Dr. Mark Swain, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

-- Dr. Sara Seager, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

This unique discovery, made with Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), will be featured in the March 20 issue of the journal Nature.

To participate in the teleconference, reporters must contact Ray Villard at 410-338-4514 or Cheryl Gundy at 410-338-4707 at the Space Telescope Science Institute by noon on March 19 for the call-in number and passcode. At the start of the briefing, images and supporting graphics will be posted on the Web at:

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live on NASA's Web site at:

For more information about NASA's Hubble Space Telescope on the Web, visit:

Source: NASA

CONTACT: J.D. Harrington of NASA Headquarters, +1-202-358-5241,, or Ray Villard of Space Telescope Science Institute, +1-410-338-4514,

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