Veronique Greenwood and Valerie Ross
September 16, 2013

In recent years, scientists have discovered thousands of planets orbiting distant stars.

Caltech astronomer Heather Knutson spends her days figuring out what a cosmic traveler might need for the trip.

She is, in essence, the first exoplanet meteorologist, determining the local temperature, weather, and even composition of the atmosphere. To study exoplanet meteorology, Knutson analyzes the infrared brightness of the surface of the exoplanet.

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