An exoplanet mission based on a high-altitude balloon is a next logical step in humanity’s quest to explore Earthlike planets in Earthlike orbits orbiting Sunlike stars. The mission described here is capable of spectrally imaging debris disks and exozodiacal light around a number of stars spanning a range of infrared excesses, stellar types, and ages. The mission is designed to characterize the background near those stars, to study the disks themselves, and to look for planets in those systems. The background light scattered and emitted from the disk is a key uncertainty in the mission design of any exoplanet direct imaging mission, thus, its characterization is critically important for future imaging of exoplanets.
Cook, Cahoy, Chakrabarti, Douglas, Finn, Kuchner, Lewis, Marinan, Martel, Mawet, Mazin, Meeker, Mendillo, Serabyn, Stuchlik, and Swain: Planetary Imaging Concept Testbed Using a Recoverable Experiment–Coronagraph (PICTURE C)