DDA 36th Meeting, 10-14 April 2005
Session 13 The Quest for Precision
Oral, Wednesday, April 13, 2005, 3:05-5:45pm

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[13.07] Precision Astrometry with the Space Interferometry Mission

S. Unwin (JPL/Caltech)

Microarcsecond accuracy stellar astrometry will become a reality with the launch of NASA's Space Interferometry Mission PlanetQuest (SIM PlanetQuest), the first space-based long baseline Michelson interferometer designed for precision astrometry. At this accuracy, astrometry opens up a diverse array of topics in planetary, stellar, and galactic astrophysics. SIM will deliver 1 microarcsec positions in a local reference frame, enabling searches for planets with masses as small as a few Earth masses around the nearest stars, and it will fully characterize the multiple-planet systems which are now known to exist. It will detect planets around young stars, providing insights into the formation and evolution of planetary systems. With a global astrometric accuracy of 4 microarcsec, it will measure accurate distances to many types of stars, and through binary orbit measurement, measure stellar masses to 1 %, which is currently very hard. By determining the proper motions of samples of stellar populations in the Galaxy, SIM will probe the galactic mass distribution, and through studies of tidal tails, the formation and evolution of the galactic halo. SIM will use astrometry to probe the structure and dynamics of the variable nuclei of active galaxies. SIM PlanetQuest is currently in project Phase B, with a projected launch in 2010.

This work was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://sim.jpl.nasa.gov. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

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

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #2
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.