DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 18. Extra Solar Planets II
Poster, Highlighted on, Wednesday, September 3, 2003, 3:00-5:30pm, Sierra Ballroom I-II

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[18.15] Eclipse: A Mission Concept for a Coronagraphic Imaging Survey of Nearby Planetary Systems

J. Trauger, A. Hull (JPL), D. Backman (Franklin and Marshall), R. A. Brown (STScI), A. Burrows (U. Arizona), C. Burrows (MetaJiva), M. Ealey (Xinetics), C. Ftaclas (U. Hawaii), S. Heap (GSFC), J. Kasdin, M. Kuchner (Princeton), J. Lunine (U. Arizona), G. Marcy (U.C. Berkeley), R. Sahai (JPL), D. Spergel (Princeton), K. Stapelfeldt (JPL), W. Traub (Harvard CfA), B. Woodgate (GSFC)

Eclipse is a proposed NASA Discovery-class mission to perform a direct imaging survey of nearby planetary systems, including a complete survey for jovian-sized planets orbiting 5 AU from all stars of spectral types A-K within 15 pc of the Sun.

Eclipse is a coronagraphic space telescope concept for high-contrast visible wavelength imaging and spectrophotometry. Its optical design incorporates a telescope with an unobscured aperture of 1.8 meters, a coronagraphic camera for suppression of diffracted light, and precision active optical correction for suppression of scattered light. Eclipse is predicted to reduce the glare of diffracted and scattered starlight between 0.25 and 1.5 arcseconds from the star by three orders of magnitude compared to any HST instrument.

Predictions of the contrast performance of the Eclipse coronagraphic telescope are based on optical propagation models and the typical characteristics of commercially available optical components. A high contrast imaging testbed has been developed at JPL to validate the critical technologies. With the exception of a large telescope, the testbed provides all the essential elements needed for a system-level demonstration of instrument contrast levels of 10-9 as near as four airy radii (4\lambda/D) from a bright star. The testbed is used to evaluate the optical design and to validate the optical models required to predict the performance of telescope architectures for direct imaging of extrasolar planetary systems.

The Eclipse mission offers precursor science explorations and critical technology validation in support of coronagraphic concepts for NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF). A three-year science mission would provide a survey of the nearby stars accessible to TPF before the end of this decade, promising fundamental new insights into the nature and evolution of possibly diverse planetary systems associated with our Sun's nearest neighbors.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: john.trauger@jpl.nasa.gov

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