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A Direct Path to Finding Earth-Like PlanetsAs envisaged by the 2000 astrophysics decadal survey panel: The main goal of Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) is nothing less than to search for evidence of life on terrestrial planets around nearby stars . Here, we consider how an optical telescope paired with a free-flying occulter blocking light from the star can reach this goal directly, without knowledge of results from prior astrometric, doppler, or transit exoplanet observations. Using design reference missions and other simulations, we explore the potential of TPF-O to find planets in the habitable zone around their central stars, to spectrally characterize the atmospheres of detected planets, and to obtain rudimentary information about their orbits. We emphasize the importance of ozone absorption in the UV spectrum of a planet as a marker of photosynthesis by plants, algae, and cyanobacteria.
Document ID
20090005030
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Heap, Sara R. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Linder, Don J. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 4, 2009
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.