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Astrophysics Colloquium

One Picometer at a Time: Designing the Next Generation of Space Telescopes to Characterize ExoEarths
Presented by Roser Juanola-Parramon
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Thursday, October 15, 2020
Virtual Event starts at 11:00 A.M.

Direct imaging of exoplanets in their habitable zone is extremely challenging due to two main factors: the proximity of the planet to the parent star and the flux ratio between the planet and the parent star, usually on the order of 10-10 in the visible. Two missions that could detect and characterize ExoEarths are the Large UV-Optical-Infrared (LUVOIR) Surveyor and the Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx). In order to suppress the starlight so faint planets can be detected and characterized adjacent to their parent star, these missions are equipped with large apertures and internal coronagraphs with active wavefront control.

The Extreme Coronagraph for Living Planet Systems (ECLIPS) is the coronagraph instrument on the LUVOIR Surveyor mission concept, and the Apodized Pupil Lyot Coronagraph (APLC) is one of the baselined mask technologies to enable 10-10 contrast observations in the habitable zones of nearby stars. Its performance depends on active wavefront sensing and control and metrology subsystems to compensate for errors in segment alignment (piston and tip/tilt), secondary mirror alignment, and global low-order wavefront errors.

Here I present the latest results of the simulation and evaluation of these effects and discuss the achieved contrast for exoplanet detection and characterization. I will also show simulated coronagraphic observations using high-fidelity spatial and spectral input models of complete planetary systems generated with the Haystacks scene framework. Finally, I will introduce our Exoplanet Spectroscopy Technologies work package to advance new concepts, techniques, and technologies that will improve the design and performance of future coronagraph missions.

JPL Contact: Pin Chen

SVCP Astrophysics

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