How NASA analyzes alien planets

Video details process of using light to determine planet's size and atmosphere

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As NASA continues to explore the universe, they discover new extrasolar planets, a.k.a. "exoplanets", that often orbit stars "light-years beyond our own solar system."

But since we can't really see them with the naked eye, NASA uses all sorts of other science to determine the planet's "size, composition and even atmospheric makeup". This video explains how astronomers can observe periodic variations in a star's brightness to get information on the orbiting planet's size, mass and atmosphere.

Now we just need a faster way to get to some of these planets (the hospitable ones, at least).

Keith Shaw rounds up the best in geek video in his ITworld.tv blog. Follow Keith on Twitter at @shawkeith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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