His research heats up the search for alien life—and finds some amazing planets along the way.
For his next act, the 33-year-old Charbonneau (a HarvardUniversity astronomer) wants to move beyond the exotic and bizarre planets he has studied so far. Now he is looking for something far more familiar: a smallish rocky planet with an atmosphere that bears the chemical imprint of life, like the abundant (and otherwise inexplicable) oxygen that plants pump into our own air.
Charbonneau hopes to refine the transit technique so that even the faint wisps of an Earth-size planet’s atmosphere can soon be detected and analyzed. If he spots the signature of alien biology on such a world, humans will have the evidence that they are not alone in the universe.
MILF of the Week