The SPICA Space Telescope

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The SPICA Space Telescope

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 3rd September 2008, 6:48 pm

Using SPICA Space Telescope to characterize Exoplanets

Abstract wrote:We present the 3.5m SPICA space telescope, a proposed Japanese-led JAXA-ESA mission scheduled for launch around 2017. The actively cooled (<5 K), single aperture telescope and monolithic mirror will operate from ~3.5 to ~210 um and will provide superb sensitivity in the mid- and far-IR spectral domain (better than JWST at lambda > 18 um). SPICA is one of the few space missions selected to go to the next stage of ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 selection process. In this White Paper we present the main specifications of the three instruments currently baselined for SPICA: a mid-infrared (MIR) coronagraph (~3.5 to ~27 um) with photometric and spectral capabilities (R~200), a MIR wide-field camera and high resolution spectrometer (R~30,000), and a far-infrared (FIR ~30 to ~210 um) imaging spectrometer - SAFARI - led by a European consortium. We discuss their capabilities in the context of MIR direct observations of exo-planets (EPs) and multiband photometry/high resolution spectroscopy observations of transiting exo-planets. We conclude that SPICA will be able to characterize the atmospheres of transiting exo-planets down to the super-Earth size previously detected by ground- or space-based observatories. It will also directly detect and characterize Jupiter/Neptune-size planets orbiting at larger separation from their parent star (>5-10 AU), by performing quantitative atmospheric spectroscopy and studying proto-planetary and debris disks. In addition, SPICA will be a scientific and technological precursor for future, more ambitious, IR space missions for exo-planet direct detection as it will, for example, quantify the prevalence exo-zodiacal clouds in planetary systems and test coronographic techniques, cryogenic systems and lightweight, high quality telescopes. (abridged)

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