A Thousand Earths: A Very Large Aperture, Ultralight Space Telescope Array for Atmospheric Biosignature Surveys
Milster, Tom D.
Kim, Dae Wook
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Steward Observ
Univ Arizona, Lunar & Planetary Lab
Univ Arizona, James C Wyant Coll Opt Sci
Univ Arizona, Coll Opt Sci
planets and satellites: atmospheres
planets and satellites: terrestrial planets
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherIOP PUBLISHING LTD
CitationDániel Apai et al 2019 AJ 158 83
RightsCopyright © 2019. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Collection InformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
AbstractAn outstanding, multidisciplinary goal of modern science is the study of the diversity of potentially Earth-like planets and the search for life in them. This goal requires a bold new generation of space telescopes, but even the most ambitious designs yet hope to characterize several dozen potentially habitable planets. Such a sample may be too small to truly understand the complexity of exo-earths. We describe here a notional concept for a novel space observatory designed to characterize 1000 transiting exo-earth candidates. The Nautilus concept is based on an array of inflatable spacecraft carrying very large diameter (8.5 m), very low weight, multiorder diffractive optical elements (MODE lenses) as light-collecting elements. The mirrors typical to current space telescopes are replaced by MODE lenses with a 10 times lighter areal density that are 100 times less sensitive to misalignments, enabling lightweight structure. MODE lenses can be cost-effectively replicated through molding. The Nautilus mission concept has a potential to greatly reduce fabrication and launch costs and mission risks compared to the current space telescope paradigm through replicated components and identical, lightweight unit telescopes. Nautilus is designed to survey transiting exo-earths for biosignatures up to a distance of 300 pc, enabling a rigorous statistical exploration of the frequency and properties of life-bearing planets and the diversity of exo-earths.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsGordon and Betty Moore Foundation; NASA's Science Mission Directorate