Water glints and Alien worlds

 

Few days ago, I attended an online seminar on the hunt of Exoplanets and what it means for us to be involved as students. Folks were talking about the ways in which we can detect the presence of water on Exoplanets.There is a post by Dr.Plait on this very subject – Water glints ! ( I just missed his talk in Atlanta due to a cray mishap; damn you Thursdays and transits ! but anyway … )  Image below is taken by an Astronuat André Kuipers, ISS.

Credit : ESA/NASA, André Kuipers ISS

Now this image below is the glint sunlight reflected off a lake on Saturn’s moon Titan as taken by the Cassini spacecraft. These glints are detected by the Visual and Infrared mapping Spectrometer (VIMS). After visiting the solidification Lab where my friend works on various spectrometers, I was excited. But, after hearing the talk, I was amazed to see the wide spread use of the spectroscopy that is percolating the various branches of Science. We know more about the core of star forming regions and guts of stars located million light years away from us than the core of the Earth only few miles away beneath our feet !

Credit : Cassini/2009 NASA