Advantages and Strategies for Direct Imaging and Characterization of Exoplanets
Wesley A. Traub (JPL)
Knowing that exoplanets exist, we naturally ask if there are any counterparts to the Earth, and if they show signs of life. To answer these questions, we must first find Earth- or super-Earth size planets, then characterize them with spectroscopy. It is unlikely that we will be able to take advantage of transiting terrestrial planets, when they are found, to characterize them using spectroscopy. Instead, direct imaging of planets around nearby stars offers great advantages for characterization, in the visible and infrared. In the US community, our current strategy for accomplishing this enterprise engages a suite of future space missions: astrometric detection, coronagraphic characterization in the visible, and interferometric characterization in the infrared. This paper will discuss the options available with these tools, and the science that we hope to gain under these options.