21 September 2012 ExoExoZodi Mapper: a starshade probe mission
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Abstract
Direct detection and imaging of Exo-Earths is a prime candidate for the next Astrophysics flagship mission. Much effort is focused on developing the mission concept and technology to enable the direct imaging of an Exo-Earth. However, several key astronomical unknowns stand in the way of a fully optimized Exo-Earth imaging mission, the primary of which is the uncertainty in the Exo-Zodi brightness. By analogy to our own Zodiacal dust, Exo-Zodiacal dust is predicted to exist in the habitable zones of other stars, exactly in the locations where Exo-Earths would reside. Reflected light from this dust could be a primary background contribution to measurements of the Exo-Earth. We propose a mission concept called the Exo-Zodi Mapper (EZM) to obtain definitive measurements of the brightness of the Exo-Zodi dust around target stars which are the prime targets for a future mission aimed at the direct detection of Exo-Earths. Our mission concept uses a medium sized starshade that works with the James Webb Space Telescope to image and characterize the brightness and distribution of Exo-Zodiacal dust around ~40 primary target stars. This measurement would provide more precise requirements for the eventual Exo-Earth flagship mission, which may translate into significant savings. In addition, EZM can provide a host of ancillary science information on these important targets, including detailed maps of their dust distribution, studies of outer, giant planets, and exploration of the overall architecture of these planetary systems. The EZM starshade can also be used to enable high-contrast imaging of other targets of value to the astronomical community such as debris disks around young stars. We present an overview of the science that motivated the mission concept, the driving requirements, and the top level mission architecture.
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Tiffany Glassman, Amy Lo, "ExoExoZodi Mapper: a starshade probe mission", Proc. SPIE 8442, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2012: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 84420H (21 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.924600; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.924600
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