Earth's transmission spectrum from lunar eclipse observations
Abbreviated Journal Title
EXTRASOLAR PLANET; SUPER-EARTHS; WATER-VAPOR; ATMOSPHERE; SEARCH; IONOSPHERE; MISSION; Multidisciplinary Sciences
Of the 342 planets so far discovered(1) orbiting other stars, 58 'transit' the stellar disk, meaning that they can be detected through a periodic decrease in the flux of starlight(2). The light from the star passes through the atmosphere of the planet, and in a few cases the basic atmospheric composition of the planet can be estimated(3-5). As we get closer to finding analogues of Earth(6-8), an important consideration for the characterization of extrasolar planetary atmospheres is what the transmission spectrum of our planet looks like. Here we report the optical and near-infrared transmission spectrum of the Earth, obtained during a lunar eclipse. Some biologically relevant atmospheric features that are weak in the reflection spectrum(9) (such as ozone, molecular oxygen, water, carbon dioxide and methane) are much stronger in the transmission spectrum, and indeed stronger than predicted by modelling(10,11). We also find the 'fingerprints' of the Earth's ionosphere and of the major atmospheric constituent, molecular nitrogen (N(2)), which are missing in the reflection spectrum.
"Earth's transmission spectrum from lunar eclipse observations" (2009). Faculty Bibliography 2000s. 1980.