Astrophysicists are discovering new extrasolar planets—those outside our Solar System—almost daily. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (originally called SIRTF, or the Space Infrared Telescope Facility) and AMNH’s Lyot Project Coronograph are two of the many technologies uncovering the attributes and evolution of these faraway worlds. The techniques employed by these instruments may one day help answer one of astronomy’s reigning mysteries: do any extrasolar planets host life?

The feature video relates scientists’ hopes for the Spitzer Space Telescope before its launch in 2003. It also gives a firsthand look into the making of the Lyot Project. The feature essays share how these two remarkable technologies are making progress in their goals to seek and understand extrasolar planets.