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S. H. Rhie, D. P. Bennett (Notre Dame), M. Clampin (STScI), K. H. Cook, A. J. Drake (LLNL), A. Gould (Ohio State), K. Horne (St. Andrews), S. D. Horner (LMSS), D. C. Jewitt (Hawaii), G. I. Langston (NRAO), T. R. Lauer (NOAO), A. Lumsdaine (Notre Dame), D. Minniti (P. Universidad Catolica), S. J. Peale (UCSB), M. Shao (JPL), R. L. Stevenson (Notre Dame), D. Tenerelli (LMSS), D. Tytler (UCSD), N. J. Woolf (Arizona)
GEST is a comprehensive extra-solar planet search mission sensitive to planets with masses as low as that of Mars. GEST will monitor the Galactic bulge for 8 months per year for three years to detect planets via gravitational microlensing and transits. GEST's microlensing survey will detect low-mass planets via high signal-to-noise variations of gravitational microlensing light curves. These planetary signals do not require follow-up observations to confirm the planetary interpretation, and they yield direct measurements of the star:planet mass ratio. GEST will be able to detect ~100 Earth-mass planets at 1 AU (assuming ~1 such planet per star) and will detect its first Earth-mass planets within a few months of launch. GEST's survey of the Galactic bulge will also detect ~50,000 planets via transits.
When the Galactic bulge is not visible, GEST will do a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) survey and operate a Participating Scienctist Program (PSP) with observational programs selected via competitive proposals. It is expected that 100,000 new KBOs will be discovered.
The GEST mission can be accomplished at low risk with established technology, and a GEST proposal has been submitted to the current Discovery Competition.
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