AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 77. The Promise and Pitfalls of High Contrast Imaging
Display, Thursday, June 7, 2001, 9:20am-4:00pm, Exhibit Hall

[Previous] | [Session 77] | [Next]

[77.11] Parameters Affecting the Search for Terrestrial Planets Orbiting Nearby Stars

D. C. Ebbets, S. D. Kilston (Ball Aerospace)

An investigation of the sun-like stars within 30 pc has characterized the parameters affecting the direct observation of planets within the stars’ habitable zones. This work is important to the concept selection process in the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) program. Since planet observation is made difficult by the immense glare of the star, we identified the significant criterion of observable angular separation between each star and the inner edge of its habitable zone. Using information derived from the Hipparcos database, we selected the 200 sun-like stars presenting the largest separations.

This empirical approach to describing the search space for terrestrial planets has been expanded by theoretical and statistical models related to the sizes of the planets and habitable zones, their albedos and phase angles, and the orientations of the planetary orbital planes. The implications for performance of the two main TPF options, a visible-light coronagraph and an infrared-light interferometer, are presented in terms of planet detectability and a mission observing program to characterize the planet orbits and atmospheres.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: skilston@ball.com

[Previous] | [Session 77] | [Next]