Monday, February 17, 2014- Astronomer Klaus Pontoppidan educates us about planet formation.


Astronomer Klaus Pontoppidan visited us in the studio this week from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), in Baltimore, MD.  Klaus is attacking questions about the origins of life, and how planets form around stars.  He is one of the foremost experts in infrared astronomical spectroscopy and the detailed chemistry of the birth sites of planets.  Specifically, he has detected water in the form of either gas (water vapor), or ice (frozen water).  Back on Earth, there are still remnants of the 4.6 billion year old solar protoplanetary disk.  These shards of pristine and processed rock (rarely) rain onto our homes in the form of meteorites.  Klaus gives us advice on where to look for these meteorites so we can sell them on eBay.  We wrap up with a discussion of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and how this and other technologies will dramatically improve the detail with which we can examine distant planets.