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See detailTechnology for a Mid-IR Flagship Mission to Characterize Earth-like Exoplanets
Lawson, P. R.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Akeson, R. L. et al

E-print/Working paper (2009)

The exploration of Earth-like exoplanets will be enabled at mid-infrared wavelengths through technology and engineering advances in nulling interferometry and precision formation flying. Nulling ... [more ▼]

The exploration of Earth-like exoplanets will be enabled at mid-infrared wavelengths through technology and engineering advances in nulling interferometry and precision formation flying. Nulling interferometry provides the dynamic range needed for the detection of biomarkers. Formation flying provides the angular resolution required in the mid-infrared to separately distinguish the spectra of planets in multi-planet systems. The flight performance requirements for nulling have been met and must now be validated in a flight-like environment. Formation-flying algorithms have been demonstrated in the lab and must now be validated in space. Our proposed technology program is described. [less ▲]

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See detailDarwin-A Mission to Detect and Search for Life on Extrasolar Planets
Cockell, C. S.; Léger, A.; Fridlund, M. et al

in Astrobiology (2009), 9(1)

The discovery of extrasolar planets is one of the greatest achievements of modern astronomy. The detection of planets that vary widely in mass demonstrates that extrasolar planets of low mass exist. In ... [more ▼]

The discovery of extrasolar planets is one of the greatest achievements of modern astronomy. The detection of planets that vary widely in mass demonstrates that extrasolar planets of low mass exist. In this paper, we describe a mission, called Darwin, whose primary goal is the search for, and characterization of, terrestrial extrasolar planets and the search for life. Accomplishing the mission objectives will require collaborative science across disciplines, including astrophysics, planetary sciences, chemistry, and microbiology. Darwin is designed to detect rocky planets similar to Earth and perform spectroscopic analysis at mid-infrared wavelengths (6-20 mum), where an advantageous contrast ratio between star and planet occurs. The baseline mission is projected to last 5 years and consists of approximately 200 individual target stars. Among these, 25-50 planetary systems can be studied spectroscopically, which will include the search for gases such as CO[SUB]2[/SUB], H[SUB]2[/SUB]O, CH[SUB]4[/SUB], and O[SUB]3[/SUB]. Many of the key technologies required for the construction of Darwin have already been demonstrated, and the remainder are estimated to be mature in the near future. Darwin is a mission that will ignite intense interest in both the research community and the wider public. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Darwin Ground-based European Nulling Interferometry Experiment
Gondoin, P.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Fridlund, M. et al

in Lacoste, H. (Ed.) GENIE - DARWIN Workshop - Hunting for Planets (2003, March 01)

Darwin is one of the most challenging space pro jects ever considered by the European Space Agency (ESA). Its principal ob jectives are to detect Earth-like planets around nearby stars and to characterise ... [more ▼]

Darwin is one of the most challenging space pro jects ever considered by the European Space Agency (ESA). Its principal ob jectives are to detect Earth-like planets around nearby stars and to characterise their atmospheres. Darwin is conceived as a space nulling interferometer" which makes use of on-axis destructive interferences to extinguish the stellar light while keeping the o -axis signal of the orbiting planet. Within the frame of the Darwin program, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) intend to build a ground-based technology demonstrator called GENIE (Ground based European Nulling Interferometry Experiment). Such a ground-based demonstrator built around the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in Paranal will test some of the key technologies required for the Darwin Infrared Space Interferometer. It will demonstrate that nulling interferometry can be achieved in a broad mid-IR band as a precursor to the next phase of the Darwin program. The present paper will describe the ob jectives and the status of the project. [less ▲]

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See detailDarwin ground-based European nulling interferometer experiment (GENIE)
Gondoin, Philippe; Absil, Olivier ULg; Fridlund, C V Malcolm et al

in Traub, Wesley (Ed.) Interferometry for Optical Astronomy II (2003, February 01)

Darwin is one of the most challenging space projects ever considered by the European Space Agency (ESA). Its principal objectives are to detect Earth-like planets around nearby stars and to characterize ... [more ▼]

Darwin is one of the most challenging space projects ever considered by the European Space Agency (ESA). Its principal objectives are to detect Earth-like planets around nearby stars and to characterize their atmospheres. Darwin is conceived as a space "nulling interferometer" which makes use of on-axis destructive interferences to extinguish the stellar light while keeping the off-axis signal of the orbiting planet. Within the frame of the Darwin program, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) intend to build a ground-based technology demonstrator called GENIE (Ground based European Nulling Interferometry Experiment). Such a ground-based demonstrator built around the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in Paranal will test some of the key technologies required for the Darwin Infrared Space Interferometer. It will demonstrate that nulling interferometry can be achieved in a broad mid-IR band as a precursor to the next phase of the Darwin program. The present paper will describe the objectives and the status of the project. [less ▲]

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See detailCandidate VLTI Configurations for the GENIE Nulling Experiment
Absil, Olivier ULg; Gondoin, P.; Erd, C. et al

in Deming, Drake; Seager, Sara (Eds.) Scientific Frontiers in Research on Extrasolar Planets (2003)

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) initiate a definition study for a Ground-based European Nulling Interferometer Experiment (Darwin-GENIE). The experiment will ... [more ▼]

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) initiate a definition study for a Ground-based European Nulling Interferometer Experiment (Darwin-GENIE). The experiment will use the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) operating on Mount Paranal (Chile). The objective of GENIE is to gain experience in the manufacture and operation of a nulling interferometer using a design concept and technology representative of the ESA IRSI-Darwin space mission. GENIE will prepare the IRSI-Darwin science program through a systematic search for exozodiacal dust clouds around IRSI-Darwin candidate targets. GENIE also aims to perform IRSI-Darwin related science achievable from ground including the detection of low-mass companions (if possible, hot jupiters) around nearby stars. Among the variety of telescope sizes and positions on the VLTI site, candidate interferometric configurations have been identified for GENIE, taking into account the limitation imposed by the Earth's atmosphere. They include a Bracewell interferometer for exozodiacal clouds detection in the N band and a double Bracewell configuration with internal modulation for extrasolar jupiter detection in the L' band. The present paper presents the prospective performance of these configurations in light of current specifications of major VLTI subsystems. [less ▲]

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