AAS 197, January 2001
Session 49. The Formation, Evolution and Detection of Habitable Planets
Display, Tuesday, January 9, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[49.07] Eclipse, A Direct Imaging Investigation of Nearby Planetary Systems

J. Trauger (JPL), D. Backman (F & M College), R. A. Brown (STScI), R. Burg (GSFC), A. Burrows (U. Arizona), C. Ftaclas (Mich. Tech. U.), S. Kulkarni (Caltech), D. Kirkpatrick (IPAC), J. Lunine (U. Arizona), G. Marcy (U.C. Berkeley), D. Redding, R. Sahai, K. Stapelfeldt (JPL), B. Woodgate (GSFC)

Eclipse is a proposed Discovery mission to perform the first sensitive imaging study of nearby planetary systems and their evolutionary stages from formation as young stellar objects to their demise as planetary nebulae. During a three-year survey of stars in the solar neighborhood, Eclipse will directly detect and characterize jovian-mass planets orbiting AFGK stars to 10 pc, zodiacal dust structures to 40 pc, and brown dwarf companions to 15 pc; survey the protoplanetary disks of nearby molecular clouds to 200 pc; study the dissolution of planetary systems in the winds of dying stars to 500 pc; and provide observing time for a participating scientist program.

Eclipse is a coronagraphic space telescope for exoplanetary astronomy, designed from the outset to meet the requirements for high-contrast imaging and spectrophotometry. It includes three essential elements: a telescope with an aperture of 1.8 meters configured for low optical scattering, a coronagraphic camera for control of diffracted light, and precision active optics for additional control of scattered light. For reference, Eclipse is predicted to reduce diffracted and scattered starlight at one arcsecond separation from the star by three orders of magnitude compared to any HST instrument.

The Eclipse mission will provide 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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