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Alien Planet's Missing Methane Stumps Scientists

Alien Planet Has Pretty Weird Atmosphere
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has found evidence that a hot, Neptune-sized planet orbiting a star beyond our sun lacks methane -- an ingredient common to many planets in our own solar system. The planet illustrated here, called GJ 436b is about 980 degrees Fahrenheit (527 degrees Celsius) – it was expected to have methane but Spitzer's observations showed it does not. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
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Mike Wall
Mike Wall

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.