The International Astronomical Union wants you to name a planet! While you ponder what to submit as a planet name, read on to learn the history and politics that led to this exciting opportunity.
One of the major questions among astronomers who study planets around other stars is, “What kinds of atmospheres do exoplanets have?” This question is extremely challenging to answer empirically: not only are most exoplanets too faint and close to their stars for us to see directly (see this post for an exception), but their atmospheres (especially on small, potentially rocky planets) are only a tiny fraction of the planet’s total composition.
Although the reaction wheel failure incapacitates the telescope, we are still finding new Earth-sized planets in the plethora of existing data.
What is it like inside the airplane observatory?