1800 planets have now been found, but this was 1976, and the key question was: Are we the only solar system in the Universe? The first exoplanet was not confirmed until a dozen years later. Thus, 25 engineering and science professors were tasked to design an instrument to detect an extrasolar planet using interferometry in the microwave. A couple of us were given the chance to do something else more creative, so I devised a technique to directly measure this distant planet using a the optical spectrum, while measuring the atmospheric composition.
graphic to the right is merely a bunch of visualizations by middle school students) will use my principles and detect an Earth-sized planet around a star capable of supporting life. Oh, my technique is also a lot cheaper. What especially galls me is that the next couple of billion dollars plus efforts of NASA will continue to knock their heads with indirect wobble and chancy transit schemes to find what we already know. Almost forty years ago I proposed a direct method to also provide the atmospheric composition of extrasolar planets.
Hey, it's not hurricane season yet, but Amanda is in the East Pacific at 75 MPH, and will strengthen into a Category 3. Yikes. That's an ominous development so early.