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Detecting Earth-like Biosignatures on Rocky Exoplanets around Nearby Stars with Ground-based Extremely Large Telescopes

López-Morales, Mercedes and Currie, Thayne and Teske, Johanna K. and Gaidos, Eric and Kempton, Eliza M.-R. and Males, Jared R. and Lewis, Nikole K. and Rackham, Benjamin V. and Ben-Ami, Sagi and Birkby, Jayne and Charbonneau, David and Close, Laird and Crane, Jeff and Dressing, Courtney and Froning, Cynthia and Hasegawa, Yasuhiro and Konopacky, Quinn and Kopparapu, Ravi K. and Mawet, Dimitri and Mennesson, Bertrand and Ramirez, Ramses and Stelter, Deno and Szentgyorgyi, Andrew and Wang, Ji (2019) Detecting Earth-like Biosignatures on Rocky Exoplanets around Nearby Stars with Ground-based Extremely Large Telescopes. Astro2020 Science White Paper, . (Unpublished)

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As we begin to discover rocky planets in the habitable zone of nearby stars with missions like TESS and CHEOPS, we will need quick advancements on instrumentation and observational techniques that will enable us to answer key science questions, such as What are the atmospheric characteristics of habitable zone rocky planets? How common are Earth-like biosignatures in rocky planets?} How similar or dissimilar are those planets to Earth? Over the next decade we expect to have discovered several Earth-analog candidates, but we will not have the tools to study the atmospheres of all of them in detail. Ground-based ELTs can identify biosignatures in the spectra of these candidate exo-Earths and understand how the planets' atmospheres compare to the Earth at different epochs. Transit spectroscopy, high-resolution spectroscopy, and reflected-light direct imaging on ELTs can identify multiple biosignatures for habitable zone, rocky planets around M stars at optical to near-infrared wavelengths. Thermal infrared direct imaging can detect habitable zone, rocky planets around AFGK stars, identifying ozone and motivating reflected-light follow-up observations with NASA missions like HabEx/LUVOIR. Therefore, we recommend that the Astro2020 Decadal Survey Committee support: (1) the search for Earth-like biosignatures on rocky planets around nearby stars as a key science case; (2) the construction over the next decade of ground-based Extremely Large Telecopes (ELTs), which will provide the large aperture and spatial resolution necessary to start revealing the atmospheres of Earth-analogues around nearby stars; (3) the development of instrumentation that optimizes the detection of biosignatures; and (4) the generation of accurate line lists for potential biosignature gases, which are needed as model templates to detect those molecules.

Item Type:Report or Paper (White Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
López-Morales, Mercedes0000-0003-3204-8183
Currie, Thayne0000-0002-7405-3119
Gaidos, Eric0000-0002-5258-6846
Kempton, Eliza M.-R.0000-0002-1337-9051
Lewis, Nikole K.0000-0002-8507-1304
Ben-Ami, Sagi0000-0001-6760-3074
Charbonneau, David0000-0002-9003-484X
Close, Laird0000-0002-2167-8246
Dressing, Courtney0000-0001-8189-0233
Froning, Cynthia0000-0001-8499-2892
Hasegawa, Yasuhiro0000-0002-9017-3663
Konopacky, Quinn0000-0002-9936-6285
Mawet, Dimitri0000-0002-8895-4735
Mennesson, Bertrand0000-0003-4205-4800
Szentgyorgyi, Andrew0000-0002-0255-2525
Wang, Ji0000-0002-4361-8885
Group:Astronomy Department
Series Name:Astro2020 Science White Paper
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190409-125055281
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:94592
Deposited By: Joy Painter
Deposited On:09 Apr 2019 20:16
Last Modified:29 Nov 2019 03:10

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