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Prospects for Habitable World Detections Using James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)Doppler and transit surveys are finding extrasolar planets of ever smaller mass and radius, and are now sampling the domain of superEarths. Recent results from the Doppler surveys suggest that discovery of a transiting superEarth in the habitable zone of a lower main sequence star may be possible. We evaluate the prospects for an all-sky transit survey targeted to the brightest stars I that would find the most favorable cases for photometric and spectroscopic characterization using the James Webb Space Telescope. We use the proposed Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) as representative of an all-sky survey. We couple the simulated TESS yield to a sensitivity model for the MIRI and NIRSpec instruments on JWST. Our sensitivity model includes all currently known and anticipated sources of random and systematic error for these instruments. We focus on the TESS planets with radii between Earth and Neptune. Our simulations consider secondary eclipse filter photometry using JWST/MIRI, comparing the 11- and 15- micron bands to measure carbon dioxide absorption in superEarths, as well as JWST!NIRSpec spectroscopy of water absorption from 1.7-3.0 microns, and carbon dioxide absorption at 4.3 microns. We find that JWST will be capable of characterizing dozens of TESS superEarths with temperatures above the habitable range, using both MIRI and NIRspec. We project that TESS will discover about eight nearby habitable transiting superEarths, all orbiting lower main sequence stars. The principal sources of uncertainty in the prospects for JWST characterization of habitable superEarths are superEarth frequency and the nature of superEarth atmospheres. Based on our estimates of these uncertainties, we project that JWST will be able to measure the temperature, and identify molecular absorptions (water, carbon dioxide) in one to four nearby habitable TESS superEarths orbiting lower main sequence stars.
Document ID
Document Type
Deming, Drake (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2010
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.