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See detailExoplanet Characterization and the Search for Life
Kasting, James; Traub, W.; Roberge, A. et al

E-print/Working paper (2009)

Over 300 extrasolar planets (exoplanets) have been detected orbiting nearby stars. We now hope to conduct a census of all planets around nearby stars and to characterize their atmospheres and surfaces ... [more ▼]

Over 300 extrasolar planets (exoplanets) have been detected orbiting nearby stars. We now hope to conduct a census of all planets around nearby stars and to characterize their atmospheres and surfaces with spectroscopy. Rocky planets within their star's habitable zones have the highest priority, as these have the potential to harbor life. Our science goal is to find and characterize all nearby exoplanets; this requires that we measure the mass, orbit, and spectroscopic signature of each one at visible and infrared wavelengths. The techniques for doing this are at hand today. Within the decade we could answer long-standing questions about the evolution and nature of other planetary systems, and we could search for clues as to whether life exists elsewhere in our galactic neighborhood. [less ▲]

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See detailEarth-like planets: science performance predictions for future nulling interferometry missions
Defrere, Denis ULg; Lay, O.; den Hartog, R. et al

in Schöller, Markus; Danchi, William; Delplancke, Françoise (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry (2008, July 01)

With the launch of planet-transit missions such as CoRoT and Kepler, it is expected that Earth-sized planets orbiting distant stars will be detected soon. This milestone will open the path towards the ... [more ▼]

With the launch of planet-transit missions such as CoRoT and Kepler, it is expected that Earth-sized planets orbiting distant stars will be detected soon. This milestone will open the path towards the definition of missions able to study the atmosphere of Earth-sized extrasolar planets, with the identification of bio-signatures as one of the main objectives. In that respect, both the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have identified nulling interferometry as one of the most promising techniques. Trying to minimize the cost and the technological risks while maximizing the scientific return, ESA and NASA recently converged towards a single mission architecture, the Emma X-array. In this paper, we present the expected science performance of this concept computed with two independent mission simulators. The impact of different observational parameters such as planet radius and exozodiacal cloud density is specifically addressed. [less ▲]

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