AAS 206th Meeting, 29 May - 2 June 2005
Session 14 Astrophysics with Optical Interferometry
Poster, Monday, 9:20am-6:30pm, Tuesday, 10:00am-7:00pm, May 30, 2005, Ballroom A

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[14.03] Astrophysics Goals of the SIM PlanetQuest Mission

S. C. Unwin (JPL/Caltech)

The Space Interferometry Mission PlanetQuest (SIM PlanetQuest), will be NASA's first space-based instrument capable of microarcsecond astrometry, and it will attack a wide range of topics in extrasolar planet detection, stellar, and galactic astrophysics. Precision astrometry is one of the cornerstones of modern astrophysics. This paper serves as an introduction to a series of papers highlighting some of the science SIM PlanetQuest will be capable of. The project is currently in project Phase B, with a projected launch in 2010.

SIM PlanetQuest astrometry at a level approaching 1 microarcsecond over a narrow field will enable searches for planets with close to terrestrial masses. It will fully characterize the multiple-planet systems already known to exist, and will search for planets around young stars, to help us understand their formation and evolution. At a global astrometric accuracy of around 4 microarcseconds, it will deliver very accurate distances to many interesting stellar types, including exotic systems such as black hole binaries. Precision proper motions will allow SIM PlanetQuest to probe the galactic mass distribution, and through studies of tidal tails, the formation and evolution of the galactic halo.

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 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.