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29 June 2006 Detection and mass characterization of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone with SIM PlanetQuest
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Abstract
SIM PlanetQuest is a space-borne Michelson interferometer with a nine meter baseline that will survey ~200 stars within 30 parsecs for terrestrial mass planets. Ultra-precise astrometric observations will reveal the gravitational wobble of the target star (due to a planetary companion) against an inertial frame of reference stars located within a 1.5 degree radius. Here, we report the results of multiple Monte Carlo simulations which have modeled SIM's ability to detect and determine the orbital parameters and masses of the terrestrial mass planets around its potential sample of target stars. We find that SIM will detect 80% of the planets in the 60 star sample. Out of those planets SIM detects, we will be able to estimate the masses of at least 50% of the planets to 30%. Whether SIM should observer 60 or 240 stars, will be aided by the results of the Kepler mission which will provide statistics on the frequency of terrestrial-mass planets around solar type stars. By determining the orbital phase of the planet, SIM will be able to assist TPF-C by telling it when to look to ensure that the planet will be outside the TPF-C 62 mas inner working angle. Furthermore, the masses determined by SIM will not suffer from the msini ambiguity inherent in radial velocity surveys.
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A. M. Tanner, J. Catanzarite, and M. Shao "Detection and mass characterization of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone with SIM PlanetQuest", Proc. SPIE 6268, Advances in Stellar Interferometry, 626847 (29 June 2006); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.671877
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