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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pre-Life Molecules Spotted On Distant Planet

The Hubble Space Telescope made a remarkable discovery on a Jupiter-sized planet from another solar system that finally gives a glimpse of hope that life is possible outside of our own planet. Scientists reported that the Hubble telescope discovered for the first time ever an organic molecule in the atmosphere of a planet found at 63 light-years in the constellation Vulpecula, called HD 189733b.

“This is a crucial stepping stone to eventually characterizing prebiotic molecules on planets where life could exist,” said Mark Swain of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Swain, who is the lead author of the paper that is set to appear in the March 20 issue of the journal Nature also reconfirming that in 2007 NASA’s Spitzer Space telescope uncovered traces of water molecules in the same planet’s atmosphere.

What is really amazing about the discovery of the methane molecule is that this element in particular is known to have an essential role in pre-biotic chemistry. In other words, there is water, there is methane, and scientists’ hopes can only grow higher.

Scientists say that the planet is far to hot to support life, but I really don't know how true that could be since other life as we know it might exist in conditions that would be extreme to us.