More Avatar science fallout: on the James Webb telescope and detecting Earth-like moons around gas giant planets

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm keeping track of articles dealing with scientific concepts related to the recent release of Avatar, and another one here quotes Lisa Kaltenegger from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on how long it will take to discover and learn about these moons - she predicts that it will happen within this decade, which will certainly be the case. A big part of this will be thanks to the James Webb Telescope, but by the time it launches (2014) we should already know of a few dozen Earth-like planets.

The movie shows a number of other moons visible from time to time, so perhaps Pandora would be located in a region similar to that where Ganymede is. Tidal locking would mean that the planet would be visible in the sky the entire time over half of the moon, and the other half of the moon would never see it, but of course the sun would rise and set normally.

A video from October showing what it would be like to have rings around Earth gives a bit of an idea of what it would be like to have an immovable object in the sky that only varies by location instead of time of day.

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