NASA Logo

NTRS

NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer Science Working Group ReportOver the past two years, the focus of the project for the interferometric version of the Terrestrial Planet Finder(TPF-I) has been on the development of the scientific rational for the mission, the assessment of TPF-I architectures, the laboratory demonstration of key technologies, and the development of a detailed technology roadmap. The Science Working Group (SWG), in conjunction with European colleagues working on the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Darwin project, has reaffirmed the goals of TPF-I as part of a broad vision for the detection and characterization of Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars and for the search for life on those planets. The SWG also helped to assess the performance of different interferometric configurations for TPF-I/Darwin. Building on earlier SWG reports, this document restates the scientific case for TPF-I, assesses suitable target stars and relevant wavelengths for observation, discusses dramatic new capabilities for general astrophysical observations, and summarizes how Spitzer has improved our knowledge of the incidence of zodiacal emission on the search for planets. This document discusses in some detail on laboratory advances in interferometric nulling and formation flying. Laboratory experiments have now achieved stable narrow- and broad-band nulling the levels of 10-6 and 2.0x10-5, respectively. A testbed has demonstrated formation flying using two realistic spacecraft mockups. With a suitably funded program of technology development, as summarized herein and described in more detail in the Technology Plan for the Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer (2005), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and ESA would be able to start within the coming decade a full-scale TPF-I/Darwin mission capable of finding Earths orbiting more than 150 nearby stars, or a scaled back interferometer capable of studying more than 30 stars. Finding evidence for life on just one of those planets would revolutionize our understanding of our place in the cosmos.
Document ID
20080008515
Document Type
Other
External Source(s)
Authors
Lawson, Peter R. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Lay, Oliver P. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Johnston, Kenneth J. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Beichman, Charles A. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
March 1, 2007
Subject Category
Astrophysics
Report/Patent Number
JPL -Publ-07-1
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Other
Keywords
interferometers
astronomy, interferometry, exoplanets, project planning
extrasolar planets