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Future Space Missions to Search for Terrestrial Planets

  • Malcolm FridlundEmail author
Part of the Space Sciences Series of ISSI book series (SSSI, volume 25)

Abstract

Since the first exoplanet was discovered more than 10 years ago, this field has developed rapidly. Currently we know of more than 200 external systems of stars and planets, apart from our own, but what has become the ‘holy grail’ of exoplanetary research is still eluding us. Here we are, of course, referring to solar systems like our own, containing a number of terrestrial or ‘rocky’ planets orbiting within the so-called ‘habitable zone’, and with giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn—which mostly or totally consist of elements as H or He—at distance much further out from the central star. No such system have to date been discovered around anything resembling our Sun, albeit because of observational biases. Nevertheless, in order to develop the emerging science discipline of Comparative Planetology, we will have to utilize new techniques that will enable us to search for, and then study in detail such systems in an un-biased fashion. This paper describes the emerging techniques and space missions that will allow, finally, the investigation of planets capable of hosting life as we know it.

Keywords

Exoplanets Terrestrial planets Space missions Nulling interferometry 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, BV 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research and Scientific Support DepartmentESTECNoordwijkThe Netherlands

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