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Hubble used Moon as Earth’s mirror during lunar eclipse, may help finding Earth-like planets

This was first of its kind event as astronomers were able to capture a total lunar eclipse that was captured at ultraviolet wavelengths and from a space telescope.

By: Tech Desk |
Updated: August 7, 2020 8:56:52 pm
total lunar eclipse, hubble space telescope, nasa hubble telescope findings, exoplanets, alien life, ozone layer, exoplanet ozone layer (Source: M. Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble), NASA, and ESA)

Astronomers took advantage of the total lunar eclipse using National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Hubble Space Telescope to study Earth. With the help of Hubble, astronomers did not look at the Earth directly but used the Moon as a mirror to reflect sunlight. During this event, the sunlight that passed through Earth’s atmosphere was reflected back to the Hubble. This was first of its kind event as astronomers were able to capture a total lunar eclipse that was captured at ultraviolet wavelengths and from a space telescope.

This is considered as a stepping stone towards scientists studying exoplanets in the future as they will look for biosignatures around these planets which revolve outside the orbit of a dwarf star. This, in turn, will help astrobiologists to find signs of life on these exoplanets and the chemicals their atmosphere may contain. These planets are potentially habitable planets as they can protect themselves from their Sun’s ultraviolet radiation .

How will this help finding Earth-like planets?

“Finding ozone is significant because it is a photochemical byproduct of molecular oxygen, which is itself a byproduct of life,” explained Allison Youngblood of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado, lead researcher of Hubble’s observations.

ALSO READ | Why this exoplanet’s discovery using radio waves matters so much?

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“One of NASA’s major goals is to identify planets that could support life,” Youngblood said. “But how would we know a habitable or an uninhabited planet if we saw one? What would they look like with the techniques that astronomers have at their disposal for characterizing the atmospheres of exoplanets? That’s why it’s important to develop models of Earth’s spectrum as a template for categorizing atmospheres on extrasolar planets.”

What is the Hubble Space telescope?

As the name suggests, Hubble is a space telescope that was launched into low earth orbit in 1990. It is one of the largest space telescopes which is aimed at helping astronomers gain vital information. It captures extremely high-resolution images with substantially lower background light when compared to ordinary telescopes.

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First published on: 07-08-2020 at 07:19:31 pm

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