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Published August 17, 2020 | Submitted
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EarthFinder Probe Mission Concept Study: Characterizing nearby stellar exoplanet systems with Earth-mass analogs for future direct imaging


EarthFinder is a NASA Astrophysics Probe mission concept selected for study as input to the 2020 Astrophysics National Academies Decadal Survey. The EarthFinder concept is based on a dramatic shift in our understanding of how PRV measurements should be made. We propose a new paradigm which brings the high precision, high cadence domain of transit photometry as demonstrated by Kepler and TESS to the challenges of PRV measurements at the cm/s level. This new paradigm takes advantage of: 1) broad wavelength coverage from the UV to NIR which is only possible from space to minimize the effects of stellar activity; 2) extremely compact, highly stable, highly efficient spectrometers (R>150,000) which require the diffraction-limited imaging possible only from space over a broad wavelength range; 3) the revolution in laser-based wavelength standards to ensure cm/s precision over many years; 4) a high cadence observing program which minimizes sampling-induced period aliases; 5) exploiting the absolute flux stability from space for continuum normalization for unprecedented line-by-line analysis not possible from the ground; and 6) focusing on the bright stars which will be the targets of future imaging missions so that EarthFinder can use a ~1.5 m telescope.

Additional Information

© 2019. NASA Probe Mission concept white paper for 2020 Astrophysics National Academies Decadal Survey. This research was carried out at George Mason University and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its endorsement by the United States Government or the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.

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