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Sensitivity of the terrestrial planet finderA key long-term goal of NASA's Origins program is the detection and characterization of habitable planets orbiting stars within the solar neighborhood. A cold, space-borne interferometer operating in the mid-infrared with a approx. 75 m baseline can null the light of a parent star and detect the million-times fainter radiation from an Earth-like planet located in the "habitable zone" around stars as far as 15 pc away. Such an interferometer, designated the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) by NASA, could even detect atmospheric signatures of species such as CO2, O3, and H2O indicative of either the possibility or presence of primitive life. This talk highlights some of the sensitivity issues affecting the detectability of terrestrial planets. Sensitivity calculations show that a system consisting of 2 m apertures operating at 5 AU or 4 m apertures operating at 1 AU can detect terrestrial planets in reasonable integration times for levels of exo-zodiacal emission up to 10 times that seen in our solar system (hereafter denoted as 10xSS). Additionally, simulations show that confusion noise from structures in the exo-zodiacal cloud should not impede planet detection until the exo-zodiacal emission reaches the 10xSS level.
Document ID
19980219273
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Beichman, Charles (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA United States)
Date Acquired
August 18, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 1998
Publication Information
Publication: Exozodiacal Dust Workshop
Subject Category
Astronomy
Funding Number(s)
CONTRACT_GRANT: NAS7-100
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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