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Remote Thermal IR Spectroscopy of our Solar SystemIndirect methods to detect extrasolar planets have been successful in identifying a number of stars with companion planets. No direct detection of an extrasolar planet has yet been reported. Spectroscopy in the thermal infrared region provides a potentially powerful approach to detection and characterization of planets and planetary systems. We can use knowledge of our own solar system, its planets and their atmospheres to model spectral characteristics of planets around other stars. Spectra derived from modeling our own solar system seen from an extrasolar perspective can be used to constrain detection strategies, identification of planetary class (terrestrial vs. gaseous) and retrieval of chemical, thermal and dynamical information. Emission from planets in our solar system peaks in the thermal infrared region, approximately 10 - 30 microns, substantially displaced from the maximum of the much brighter solar emission in the visible near 0.5 microns. This fact provides a relatively good contrast ratio to discriminate between stellar (solar) and planetary emission and optimize the delectability of planetary spectra. Important molecular constituents in planetary atmospheres have rotational-vibrational spectra in the thermal infrared region. Spectra from these molecules have been well characterized in the laboratory and studied in the atmospheres of solar system planets from ground-based and space platforms. The best example of such measurements are the studies with Fourier transform spectrometers, the Infrared Interferometer Spectrometers (IRIS), from spacecraft: Earth observed from NIMBUS 8, Mars observed from Mariner 9, and the outer planets observed from Voyager spacecraft. An Earth-like planet is characterized by atmospheric spectra of ozone, carbon dioxide, and water. Terrestrial planets have oxidizing atmospheres which are easily distinguished from reducing atmospheres of gaseous giant planets which lack oxygen-bearing species and are characterized by spectra containing hydrocarbons such as methane and ethane. Spectroscopic information on extrasolar planets thus can permit their classification. Spectra and spectral lines contain information on the temperature structure of the atmosphere. Line and band spectra can be used to identify the molecular constituents and retrieve species abundances, thereby classifying and characterizing the planet. At high enough spectral resolution characteristic planetary atmospheric dynamics and unique phenomena such as failure of local thermodynamic equilibrium can be identified. Dynamically induced effects such as planetary rotation and orbital velocity shift and change the shape of spectral features and must be modeled in detailed spectral studies. We will use our knowledge of the compositional, thermal and dynamical characteristics of planetary atmospheres in our own solar system to model spectra observed remotely on similar planets in extrasolar planetary systems. We will use a detailed radiative transfer and beam integration program developed for the modeling and interpretation of thermal infrared spectra measured from nearby planet planets to generate models of an extra-solar "Earth" and "Jupiter". From these models we will show how key spectral features distinguish between terrestrial and gaseous planets, what information can be obtained with different spectral resolution, what spectral features can be used to search for conditions for biogenic activity, and how dynamics and distance modify the observed spectra. We also will look at unique planetary phenomena such as atmospheric lasing and discuss their utility as probes for detection and identification of planets. Results of such studies will provide information to constrain design for instrumentation needed to directly detect extrasolar planets.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Kostiuk, Theodor (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Hewagama, Tilak (Maryland Univ. Greenbelt, MD United States)
Goldstein, Jeffrey (Challenger Center Alexandria, VA United States)
Livengood, Timothy (Maryland Univ. Greenbelt, MD United States)
Fast, Kelly (Maryland Univ. Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Subject Category
Meeting Information
Blue Dot II Workshop(Moffett Field, CA)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.