DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 40. Extra-Solar Planet Posters
Displayed, 9:00am Tuesday - 3:00pm Saturday, Highlighted, Friday, November 30, 2001, 9:00-10:30am, French Market Exhibit Hall

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[40.12] The Virtual Planetary Laboratory: Towards Characterizing Extrasolar Terrestrial Planets

V. S. Meadows, M. Allen, L. Brown, D. Crisp, A. Fijany, M. Storrie-Lombardi, E. Ustinov, T. Velusamy (JPL/Caltech), M. Richardson, Y. Yung (Caltech), W. Huntress (CIW-GL), D. DesMarais, K. Zahnle (NASA-ARC), J. Kasting (PSU), C. Morrow (SSI), N. Sleep (Stanford), M. Cohen (UC-Berkeley), K. Nealson, R. Rye (USC), M. Coleman (Univ. Reading, UK.)

The Virtual Plantary Laboratory (VPL) is a recently funded 5-yr project which seeks to improve our understanding of the range of plausible environments and the likely signatures for life on extrasolar terrestrial planets. To achieve these goals we are developing a suite of innovative modeling tools to simulate the environments and spectra of extrasolar planets. The core of the VPL is a coupled radiative transfer/climate/chemistry model, which is augmented by interchangeable modules which characterize geological, exogenic, atmospheric escape, and life processes. The VPL is validated using data derived from terrestrial planets within our own solar system. The VPL will be used to explore the plausible range of atmospheric compositions and globally-averaged spectra for extrasolar planets and for early Earth, and will improve our understanding of the effect of life on a planet's atmospheric spectrum and composition. The models will also be used to create a comprehensive spectral catalog to provide recommendations on the optimum wavelength range, spectral resolution, and instrument sensitivity required to characterize extrasolar terrestrial planets. Although developed by our team, the VPL is envisioned to be a comprehensive and flexible tool, which can be collaboratively used by the broader planetary science and astrobiology communities. This presentation will describe the project concept, the tasks involved, and will outline current progress to date.

This work is funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

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