exoplanetology sundries

There were a number of interesting results reported today, the start of what promises to be an interesting week:

IR spectra of HR 8799 planets - Scharf at SciAm blogs reports on the Oppenheimer et al paper using the P1640 at the Palomar telescope.

Their interpretation of the rather low signal-to-noise low resolution spectra is that the outer two planets have little methane in their upper atmosphere and the inner planets do seem to have methane and that there is evidence for ammonia in the outer planets.

I suspect more data is needed.

HR8799 is an interesting system, I'm still not convinced by the standard model, but my alternative conjecture may be too alternative....
Maybe I ought to just write it up.

Charles Cockerell goes all negative on alien life - I'm getting a strange negative vibe from the SETI community, not sure what is driving it, my personal sense is the opposite that prospects for life are massively improving as we learn more.

Kepler Mission Manager Update: urgh.
After the deliberate entry into safe mode of the spacecraft earlier this year, the preliminary read is that reaction wheel #4 is still acting up - exhibiting symptoms consistent with the failure mode of the previous reaction wheel.
Kepler only has 4 reaction wheels.
One is broken.
It needs 3 to operate.

The housekeeping data was downloaded last week, and ought to give a more robust diagnosis of what is going on once it has been analysed.

We really need Kepler to survive the extended mission and not flake out just as things are about to get really interesting.

New blog - High Metallicity

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Just a note. blog URL/name have changed.

Thanks for the free publicity :P