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The debate on whether or not Osiris has water in its atmosphere continues

A new analysis again suggests that gas giant HD209458b currently has water in its atmosphere.  The planet -- nicknamed Osiris -- is 150 light years away from Earth, located in the Pegasus constellation.  The planet was first detected in late November 1999, with the help of astronomical spectroscopy.  

The hot, Jupiter-like gaseous planet has been the target of research once scientists believed water could be located somewhere on the planet.  Three teams of scientists previously believed there could be water in the planet's atmosphere, but those ideas were questioned after the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope was unable to provide evidence.

Travis Bartman, an astronomer working at Lowell Observatory, believes he has discovered the missing water after analyzing the light from a star when it passes through HD209458b's atmosphere.

Barman and researchers from Harvard University measured the light coming from Osiris as it reached the furthest part of the 3.5-day orbit it makes around the star.  With the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, it was possible to further study water absorption in the planet's atmosphere.  Each time the planet passes its parent star, it is possible to analyze how the atmosphere absorbs light passing from the star through the atmosphere.    

Scientists will continue to study and conduct research to either confirm or deny Barman's research.


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more on the topic
By Macuser89 on 4/12/2007 3:12:54 PM , Rating: 2
I think the reason why they want to find water on other planets, is to find life on other planets. Even if its just flesh eating bacteria. Pretty cool how they can detect water that far away though.




RE: more on the topic
By Goty on 4/12/2007 4:03:50 PM , Rating: 2
It's highly unlikely that a gas giant that's either orbiting close enough to a small star or orbiting a large enough star to have a 3.5 day orbit could support life. Temperatures would probably be high enough that nothing more than simple molecules could form.

We can always hope, though =P


RE: more on the topic
By constant on 4/12/2007 5:47:18 PM , Rating: 1
The reason we are so fascinated with finding water is because this is like looking at a huge crowd and recognizing someone. This will never happen, in the case of the universe, but for those who have no clue to begin with, it won't make any difference what they 'find' anyways.


RE: more on the topic
By aurareturn on 4/12/2007 7:49:54 PM , Rating: 4
Don't you people want to know what's other there besides Earth? Don't you want to see everything in the universe? Or know everything about the universe and how it works and how it all got started?

Do you want to know where you came from? Why you are here?

It's curiosity that drives human to explore. Every discovery, big or small, is a small step in understanding ourselves, and our planet, our universe.

I, for one, think that we don't have enough scientists and resources(money) studying space.

For those of you who have looked up a dark sky filled with stars, you know what I am talking about.


RE: more on the topic
By Ringold on 4/12/2007 8:04:55 PM , Rating: 3
Aura, you know what amuses me? Every 12-18 months, I'll read a bit of a book, check the latest articles in top magazines, even stick my nose in some bleeding-edge on-going research that I barely understand to get up to date on what the latest 'facts' and theories are. It amuses me because.. almost without fail, for years now, the universe and how we understand it changes in fairly large ways every 12-18 months.

When we can't even understand some of the basic things going on in the universe I'd say we still have lots of work to do.

Not to mention, that's pretty pessimistic to think we could point telescopes across the galaxy endlessly and not find something. Statistics suggest otherwise. Question is, will the first discovery be bacteria, a primitive civilization like ours, or something we nearly miss because their planet dumps so much energy we mistook it for a weird star.

Of course, statistics also suggest we'd have to be pretty lucky with current technology and funding, but that's not a reason to avoid trying.

Based on the few astronomers I've met I believe they're doing the most productive work that they could be doing with their lives anyway. Their near-insane love and dedication for their work likely wouldn't be replicated if their field didn't exist or had no funding and they had to work in something more (to them) mundane. In fact, I suspect at least a couple of them I know would've got English majors and just been stay at home moms if not for Astronomy. They're doing good work.


RE: more on the topic
By trex1000 on 4/12/2007 8:14:23 PM , Rating: 3
The thing I most love about science is the fact that we humans are constantly finding out that there is more to the universe than we thought posible. Scientists once believed that they had found the only formula which supported life. This formula was based on the fact that sunlight was the main crucial component of life. Then something happened. A whole ecosystem was discovered at the furthest depths of the oceans devoid of all sunlight and fueled by chemosynthesis. This changed the way how the science community looked at life when considering the possibilities of its creation. Water is now considered to be the only crucial component needed to support life. Once humans begin to explore the galaxy a little better we will most likely find that there are other formulas which support life which may not even include water. The key component for life is enegry, and there are many ways to extract energy without the need for water. And if this is true, there are many equations in where excessive heat and preasure may be crucial to life. If we use our most powerful tool, the imagination, we can find this to be practical.


RE: more on the topic
By masher2 (blog) on 4/12/2007 9:27:54 PM , Rating: 3
> "Water is now considered to be the only crucial component needed to support life."

Many scientists are far more open than this....the possibility of live evolving without water is certainly possible. Silicon-based life, for instance...which was first theorized by a scientist over 100 years ago.


RE: more on the topic
By derwin on 4/13/2007 1:54:25 AM , Rating: 5
the presence of water has nothing to do with carbon or silicone based life. The presence of water merely creates an environment much, much more stable for life to form in, increasing its probability greatly. For simple life molecules to form into larger living oranisms, they need nearly stable temperatures and a form of locomotion. Water spreads out heat so that changes in temperatures on a planet occur slowest in the largest bodies of water (kinda like our oceans) and the fluid motion of water provides a locomotion for these molecules which otherwise could not propel themselves to interact with other life like molecules. The other great benefit of water is that since most basic life molecules are hydrophobic (ie, they are repeled by water, like oil is), it causes all the life molecules to concentrate themselves together (like drops of oil in water), increasing their chances of encountering whatever other life molecules they might need to encounter to survive. Of course this could occur with out water, but water is a very good way to accomplish those three (and other) things which help the growth of life like molecules.


RE: more on the topic
By masher2 (blog) on 4/13/2007 10:55:49 AM , Rating: 3
> "the presence of water has nothing to do with carbon or silicone based life"

Untrue. Water is hugely important in the development of carbon-based life. But in silicon biochemistry it plays a much smaller part. For instance, let's look at the benefits you list. Water provides temperature averaging...from 0-100C, at least. That's also the most chemically active range for carbon-based compounds. But the temperature range for silicon is far wider....and long-chain silicon molecules are stable at much higher temperatures.

How about the fact that most "basic life molecules" in the carbon chain are hydrophobic? True...but the basic building blocks of the carbon cycle (CO2 and oxygen) are hydrophillic, and thus water disperses them freely, both providing them to and dispersing them from organisms within it. But most silicon-based analogues to these (such as silicon dioxide) are hydrophobic as well, which means a "silicon cycle" could never develop within an aqueous enviroment....it would need some other agent.

This is why worlds without water are (so we think) unlikely to develop carbon-based life. But silicon-based life? If its possible at all, its very possible without water.


Research or not?
By Kragoth on 4/15/2007 4:56:12 PM , Rating: 2
As some of you have commented about how important this research is let's look at the reality.

1. Some of you say that this research is important to discover our origins. Is it? and if so, how will knowing the location of the "big bang" or some other theory be of any use to the human civilisation? Seeings of course there is still no conclusive evidence that supports any one of the given theories for the beginning of life. Personally, I believe in creation but I am not here to debate religion. It just seems to me that science is being conducted a little backwards. This endless quest to find water on other planets is comical in some respects. I say this for a few reasons. Lets say for instance that we do discover a planet that appears to have some form of life be it primitive or advanced (which I believe will never happen anyways). We have not developed a propulsion system that would get us to the planet before the occupants were dead. It's assumed by most scientists that the planets in our own solar system are most likely devoid of life and we can't even send a person to pluto! I'm all for space research and the amazing things they are discovering. But, let's be honest, what they discover has no real bearing on our lives, it is purely amazing facts and theories.

2. Some of you say that there is not enough money being spent on this type of research and that there are plenty of scientists working on the problems that are here on earth. Really? When the money spent in a single year for space research could eliminate starvation and dirty water for the entire world. (Go research this for yourself, but it's true, a few billion dollars could do this). I think, that human beings are ignorant at best, and would rather ignore these problems and focus on what interests them.

3. All this research going on and just imagine one day we discover another planet with life. A more advanced life. What happens if they don't like humans? What's our strategy then? Maybe aliens want to be left alone from a human race that is always involved in wars and fighting.

So, I think it's pretty reasonable to argue we should fix our own problems before bringing others into it or spending more money on things that don't actually benefit human "LIFE".

Just my 2 cents, not entirely scientific...but there are a few people left in the world with morals, not just money.




RE: Research or not?
By masher2 (blog) on 4/15/2007 6:38:48 PM , Rating: 2
> "the money spent in a single year for space research could eliminate starvation and dirty water for the entire world..."

Total rubbish. Starvation today is a political problem, not a scientific or even an economic one. The only nations where starvation exists are those with civil war, political strife, and/or an oppressive regime.

Also, I have to point out that "useless" space research has already saved countless lives here on Earth. Satellite hurricane monitoring alone has already saved hundreds of thousands by itself...and thats just one of several thousand space-related spinoffs. Miniaturization and telemetry research for the space program has now been adapted to medicine, and is saving further lives. GPS and satellite communications have made getting lost at sea a near-impossibility, and fatal navigational errors are now nearly unheard of.

> "just imagine one day we discover another planet with life. A more advanced life. What happens if they don't like humans? What's our strategy then? "

Better if we find them first then, eh?

> "we can't even send a person to pluto! "

Of course we could. It'd be a task no more difficult than the Gemini/Apollo program was in the 1960s...assuming we use nuclear propulsion, of course.

> "we should fix our own problems before bringing others into it or spending more money on things that don't actually benefit human "LIFE""

People were saying the same things about early experiments with electricity and magnetism during the 1700s, and chemistry before that. Basic research that has benefitted mankind far more than any other.

But some people refuse to learn from history. Basic research always pays off. Always. What we learn about planets hundreds of light-years away will make life better for us here on Earth. And it'll do so sooner than you think.


Will that help?
By lumbergeek on 4/12/07, Rating: -1
RE: Will that help?
By KaiserCSS on 4/12/2007 2:29:19 PM , Rating: 5
Ignorant comments like these really irritate me. I hate it when people criticize extraplanetary scientific endeavours simply because they aren't concentrating research on Earth. Here's another thought for you: Do you honestly believe that every single scientist on Earth is studying space? No, I didn't think so. So wouldn't it be reasonable to conclude that there are thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of scientists actively researching methods to solve Earthly problems? I would believe so.

Just because an already small group of researchers are actively exploring the secrets of the cosmos does not, in any way, indicate that there aren't others working on more obvious dilemas here.

The moral of this lesson is: "Think before you speak."


RE: Will that help?
By masher2 (blog) on 4/12/2007 2:41:19 PM , Rating: 5
Very true, and even more to the point, there is the fact that studying other planets helps us to better understand our own. When your statistical sample is just a single object, its very hard to draw valid conclusions.


RE: Will that help?
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/12/07, Rating: 0
RE: Will that help?
By masher2 (blog) on 4/12/2007 3:30:03 PM , Rating: 5
By your logic, we shouldn't study the surface of the sun, as no one will ever live there.

Studying any planet-- even Jupiter-- teaches us a great deal about the Earth. What processes are parallel, what ones are divergent...the list is endless. Without this, "Earth Science" is like trying to understand human psychology by examining just one person.


RE: Will that help?
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/12/07, Rating: 0
RE: Will that help?
By Ringold on 4/12/2007 7:56:37 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't be true to my form if I didn't chime in and say I, at least, look forward to research like this one day leading to commercial exploitation of Jupiter, its moons, and the other planets of similar composition in the solar system..

Plus, it might mean Jupiter and planets like it would not only be a good place to hide from the Cylon's, but maybe we can also pull water from the atmosphere! Valuable research indeed.


RE: Will that help?
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/13/2007 10:01:15 AM , Rating: 2
Doh! Forgot about the Cylon factor. How stupid of me. Now it's all clear.


RE: Will that help?
By Ringold on 4/13/2007 3:46:45 PM , Rating: 2
They're counting on your forgetting, of course. Just like the Buggers.

But the real point was, of course, that Jupiter and its entire little system could be commercially exploitable sooner or later. Once lunar operations become common enough I don't see what would stop commercial operations from Jupiter. Assuming, of course, there is something there valuable enough to be worth a round trip, and dealing with apparently wicked radiation.


RE: Will that help?
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/13/2007 4:13:43 PM , Rating: 2
Wicked radiation....Hmmmm
We could send people with cancer - get radiation treatment for free, actually get paid for treatment. There will not be anything left of your cancer cells after the visit, of course there might not be much left of any other cells. Hey, but what the hell you got to go to Jupiter, see the Giant red spot up close and avoid the Cylons. All in all I say a good deal.


RE: Will that help?
By Etsp on 4/12/2007 5:21:56 PM , Rating: 2
Are you confusing Jupiter's gravity with the gravity of a black hole? Cause if I remember correctly, Jupiter's gravity wouldn't do that to you.


RE: Will that help?
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/12/2007 5:44:35 PM , Rating: 2
Someone correct me if I'm wrong. The ratio x lbs to x + bls I no is wrong:
The Gravity on Jupiter is something like 1,500 to one (guessing but I know it up there). So, a 200 lbs man becomes 300,000 lbs. Your bones can not even handle a bite of 2,400 lbs from a pit bull, and so they break...So at 300,000 lbs you become like a liquid and are pulled as close to the ground as possible, which spreads your body all over the place, yuk.. In a black hole you are compacted together into a really, really, really small dot of space not a good thing if you are claustrophobic, or so one theory goes.


RE: Will that help?
By PlasmaBomb on 4/12/2007 6:23:04 PM , Rating: 2
Can I correct you?
If a man weighs 200lb (~91 kg) on the surface of the earth his mass would be ~91/9.81 = 9.267 kg. So assuming that he was on a spacecraft suitably equipped to fly along on the surface of Jupiter (~71,000 km from Jupiters’ core), the same man would weigh 9.267*24.79 = 229.73 kg or 505.4 lb, so whilst moving around would be an effort, he would be far from 1/10 mm thick (at least due to the gravity).
When pit bulls bite they apply a pressure of over 2000 psi which is very different to 2400 lb.
If you were to fall into a black hole you would end up as a very long string (think spaghetti) because of the massively different tidal forces on your head and feet.
If you were to fall into a black hole you would end up as a very long string (think spaghetti) because of the massively different tidal forces on your head and feet.


RE: Will that help?
By PlasmaBomb on 4/12/2007 6:24:04 PM , Rating: 2
Doh ignore the double last sentence


RE: Will that help?
By oTAL on 4/13/2007 10:11:46 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If a man weighs 200lb (~91 kg) on the surface of the earth his mass would be ~91/9.81 = 9.267 kg.


I'm not sure about the rest of your post but this line was stupid enough for me (or maybe you're tired and you made a mistake).
Do you the difference between mass and weight? Mass is an absolute concept and you are confusing Kg with Newtons. You probably meant that if someone weighs 91KgF = ~910N, then his mass would be (pretty much anywhere) 91Kg.
The rest of your post kind of makes a good argument about the distance from the center of mass of a given object which is important when discussing gravitational pull.


RE: Will that help?
By plinden on 4/12/2007 7:22:38 PM , Rating: 2
Not quite - from Jupiter's wikipedia entry "... the equatorial surface gravity of 24.79 m/s2 ..." (m is meters, not miles). If you don't accept the accuracy of Wikipedia, try http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/solar/j...

That's roughly 2.5g (Earth's surface gravity is 9.8m/s2, so a 200lb-on-earth man would weigh 500lb. Heavy, but considering the large numbers of large Americans I see every day, it's not extreme.


RE: Will that help?
By PlasmaBomb on 4/12/2007 5:59:15 PM , Rating: 2
The second paragraph says that the planet is Jupiter like it's an analogy. Therefore we don't need any volunteers...


RE: Will that help?
By namechamps on 4/12/2007 6:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
This is just a first step. Proof that another planet was water. They started with large planets because they are much easier to detect at a range of millions of miles. Now that they know a "jupiter like" planet has water we likely will find another earth like planet with water in the future. The first is always the hardest. It's like saying man that first CPU sucked because it only ran 3mhz and you can't play Quake on it. If it hadn't been created nothing after it would have come along.


RE: Will that help?
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/12/2007 7:31:36 PM , Rating: 2
Well thanks to: Masher2, PlasmaBomb, namechamps, and a point made by etsp, I feel a little wiser today. Either it's been to many years since I had a science class, guess near 17 years, or theories (back then) have changed or been corrected. Thanks for clarifying my question on the value of this study.


RE: Will that help?
By PlasmaBomb on 4/12/2007 8:10:07 PM , Rating: 2
Everyday you learn something new, and hopefully it makes you a better person and the world a better place. That is why people do research on numerous subjects.


RE: Will that help?
By JustinChase on 4/12/2007 3:21:18 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
So wouldn't it be reasonable to conclude that there are thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of scientists actively researching methods to solve Earthly problems? I would believe so.


Oh, if only that were true.

I agree that studying space is important; but calling someone ignorant because they believe more should be being done to solve our immediate and quite serious water (or lack thereof) problems here on Earth is not only uninformed, but unhelpful, and dare I say; ignorant.

Knowing if other planets have water, or intelligent life, or hot Amazon women will not provide water for the hundreds of millions/billions of people that will soon be without any if we don't start making big changes soon.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=D8CBF79...

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?alias=warming-cou...

"The true extent of the impacts are only beginning to be understood, or even researched. The majority of studies on which this report relies were conducted in North America, Europe or Australia, and there is a paucity of data from the developing world where impacts are likely to be most severe. An additional one degree Celsius of warming—all but certain due to greenhouse gases already emitted—would make water scarce for an additional 1.2 billion people in Asia, according to fellow report lead author Gary Yohe, an economist at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. And, it is also clear that rising CO2 levels contribute to increased acidity in the world's oceans, although those effects have not yet been documented, according to the report."

"Permafrost is melting, imperiling roads from Alaska to Patagonia. Mountain snowpacks thaw earlier in the year, imperiling water supplies in the southwestern U.S., China and India, among other places."

"Those droughts could diminish underground supplies like the Edwards Aquifer in Texas, which supplies 2 million people with water, by up to 40 percent, and cut levels of the Ogallala aquifer which underlies eight U.S. states, the report said."

I submit it is you being ignorant when you state that "hundreds of thousands of scientists [are] actively researching methods to solve Earthly problems"

That is simply not the case, and everyone seems to think that it is; which is really scary to say the least.

So I guess the moral might be more appropriately titled "do a little research before you start insulting those more informed than yourself"


RE: Will that help?
By masher2 (blog) on 4/12/2007 3:37:13 PM , Rating: 3
> " calling someone ignorant because they believe more should be being done to solve our immediate and quite serious water problems here on Earth..."

But that's not what he said. He said these particular scientists should be working on the problem. Sorry but-- it's not their field. Or do you think we should start a program of coercing researchers into government-mandated work assignments?

As for your SciAm links, you'll never find a shortage of people willing to cry the sky is falling. But the fact remains that billions of gallons of unused fresh water flow daily into the world's oceans....and even disregarding that, we have long had the capability to desalinate essentially unlimited water directly from the ocean.

Millions of small children die each year from easily-preventable diseases. How many people die from thirst each year? One or two lost in the desert somewhere? If you want to focus on problems, pick a real one.


RE: Will that help?
By giantpandaman2 on 4/12/2007 6:52:20 PM , Rating: 2
Speaking solely on the water comment: Potable water is a huge problem.

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/nr/public/media/ann...

It's not that people die of thirst, it's that they die of complications/diseases caused by a lack of clean water. Water from glaciers are often the cheapest, cleanest water available to very large tracts of people. It's for that reason why global warming will have a much greater impact on poorer areas and nations. Those that can afford such things as desalination plants won't have that much of a problem with it.


RE: Will that help?
By masher2 (blog) on 4/12/2007 9:35:52 PM , Rating: 2
> "it's that they die of complications/diseases caused by a lack of clean water."

Clean water, exactly. Not water itself. Which has been mankind's problem for thousands of years...and also explains why, a scant few hundred years ago, water contamination (primarily from human and animal feces) was the number one killer world-wide. It's a problem wherever people congregate, and wind up fouling their own water...and also explains the early popularity of beer and tea (boiled water is safe).

But its an economic problem at this time-- not something for which we need to pull thousands of scientists of their current research to search for a solution.


RE: Will that help?
By kitchme on 4/12/2007 8:25:12 PM , Rating: 2
By that logic, why should we have artists, musicians, philosophers, writers,...What practical use do we have from them in solving physical problems on Earth?


RE: Will that help?
By JazzMang on 4/12/2007 2:36:08 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, lets put all scientific progress aside until we solve that ONE problem.

You've got to be kidding me...


RE: Will that help?
By Motley on 4/12/2007 2:51:22 PM , Rating: 4
I'm wondering why he's here readig daily tech when he should be helping those scientists work on that.


RE: Will that help?
By oTAL on 4/13/2007 1:24:51 PM , Rating: 1
Man, that post deserves a 6!! =)
Nice one. Thanks for the laugh. :)


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