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Space Telescope Science Institute
SIM, the Space Interferometry Mission

M. Shao
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
Pasadena CA

SIM is currently planned to be the first of the new origins missions. This talk will describe the current status of the project and the observational modes relevant to exoplanet detection and characterization. SIM directly supports planet detection in a variety of ways. The most obvious is the astrometric detection of planets. With a goal of 4 µarcsec astrometry for global astrometry and 1 µarcsec for narrow angle astrometry, it offers a bit more than a factor of 10 improvement over what is possible from the ground using long-baseline interferometers. This paper will discuss the two color technique for compensating for astrometric errors due to star spots on main sequence dwarfs. In other areas, SIM is designed to provide a technology demonstration of interferometric nulling for the future "planet finder" mission. Nulling of a point source to 1¥10-4 at visible wavelengths will require optical path stability comparable to 1¥10-6 nulling at 10 µm for the Planet finder mission. Last of all, this nulling capability will enable SIM to study exo-zodiacal emission at visible wavelengths at sensitivity many orders of magnitude better than what's possible from a conventional large ground based telescope.