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J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington

Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.

March 14, 2008
Hubble Detects Organic Molecule on an Extrasolar Planet
WASHINGTON - NASA will hold a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 19, to report on the first-ever detection of the organic molecule methane in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting a distant star.

Though the planet is too hot to support life as we know it, the finding demonstrates the ability to detect organic molecules spectroscopically around Earth-like planets in habitable zones around stars.

Briefing participants are:
- Dr. Mark Swain, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
- Dr. Sara Seager, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

This unique discovery, made with Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), will be featured in the March 20 issue of the journal Nature.

To participate in the teleconference, reporters must contact Ray Villard at 410-338-4514 or Cheryl Gundy at 410-338-4707 at the Space Telescope Science Institute by noon on March 19 for the call-in number and passcode. At the start of the briefing, images and supporting graphics will be posted on the Web at:

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live on NASA's Web site at:

For more information about NASA's Hubble Space Telescope on the Web, visit:

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