January 30th: "The New Worlds Observer: A Mission to Open Up Detailed Study of Planetary Systems"
NAI will be broadcasting this virtual seminar over the web at 2pm MST on Wednesday, January 30th. Webster Cash from UC Boulder will present. Please contact Marco Boldt for information on how to join. Marco.S.Boldt@nasa.gov
Abstract: The New Worlds Observer (NWO) is a concept for a major mission to be implemented in the coming decade with the goal of opening up detailed, direct studies of exo-planetary systems. The mission is based on the use of "Starshades", which are petal-shaped occulters about 50m in diameter, flying 70,000km from a conventional space telescope. This combination suppresses the light from the central star, revealing the planetary system in detail, free from scatter. NWO will be able to detect planets from the habitable zone outward and follow up discovery with high quality spectroscopy. It is the best approach to finding and identifying water planets and then studying the chemical balance of their atmospheres and surfaces. Photometric markers can indicate the presence of oceans and continents. And, even more exciting, spectroscopic biomarkers hold forth hope of finding indications of life outside our solar system.
[Source: NAI newsletter]
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