Scientists map clouds of huge planet outside the solar system

10/1/2013 | National Geographic News

Observations by NASA's Spitzer and the now sidelined Kepler space telescopes have yielded the first cloud map of a planet outside our solar system. The clouds are on the western hemisphere of the exoplanet, called Kepler 7b, which is almost 1,000 light years from Earth and is 1.5 times the radius of Jupiter. "Kepler-7b reflects much more light than most giant planets we've found, which we attribute to clouds in the upper atmosphere. Unlike those on Earth, the cloud patterns on this planet do not seem to change much over time -- it has a remarkably stable climate," said scientist Thomas Barclay of the Ames Research Center.

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