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Terrestrial Planet Finder: technology development plans and progress

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1 Author(s)
Lindensmith, C. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA

One of humanity's oldest questions is whether life exists elsewhere in the Universe. The Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) mission can survey stars in our stellar neighborhood to search for planets and perform spectroscopic measurements to identify potential biomarkers in their atmospheres. TPF is planned for launch around 2015. Two major classes of mission have been identified as likely to meet the TPF goals: visible-light coronagraphs, and infrared interferometers. Within the interferometer class are options for using separated spacecraft or a connected structure. TPF is in the midst of an intensive period of technology development, design study, and scientific investigation to make a selection in 2006 for Phase A development. Substantial funding has been committed for development in these three areas, with the largest portion going to support demonstration of key technologies. Efforts underway through industry and university contracts and at JPL include a number of system and subsystem testbeds, as well as components and numerical modeling capabilities. The science, technology, and design efforts are closely coupled to ensure that requirements and capabilities are consistent and meet the science goals.

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 2004. Proceedings. 2004 IEEE  (Volume:6 )

Date of Conference:

6-13 March 2004