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Session 70 - Searching for Other Planetary Systems.
Display session, Wednesday, January 17
North Banquet Hall, Convention Center

[70.19] Detection of Planets by Spaceborne Transit Photometry

W. J. Borucki, E. Dunham, D. Koch (NASA ARC), D. K. Cullers (SETI Inst.), J. Jenkins (SETI Inst.), H. Reitsema (Ball Aerospace)

The probability per unit time of detecting planets by searching for transits is proportional to r^-3/2, where r is the orbital semimajor axis. Thus transits of inner planets are highly favored over outer planets. However the probability of recognizing a transit in the presence of noise is a function of the energy of a single transit (defined as the square of the amplitude multiplied by the duration), the number of transits, and the characteristics of the noise. Because the transit duration increases as r^1/2, the effective search space can encompass a wide range of orbital distances. An examination of the interplay of these factors in finding planets in the presence of realistic stellar noise and a sketch of mission capable of finding planets over a wide range of planetary orbital distances is presented. We find that missions to find hundreds of planets at least as big as Mars with orbital distances from near the Roche limit to many AU appear feasible with sufficiently powerful onboard processors.

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