In a broader scientific context, the goal of TPF is to understand the properties of all planetary constituents. In addition to Earth-like planets, it will study the orbital and physical properties of gas giants and debris disks.
The standard model of solar system formation holds that planets are procreated in a flattened disk of material formed in the collapse of a rotating cloud of dust and gas.
While this theory has been strengthened by observations of protostellar disks that span tens to hundred of astronomical units (AU) across, the modern discoveries of extrasolar planets with different orbital characteristics suggest that planetary systems are dynamic and that planets may migrate from the site of their birth.
TPF will deliver fundamental information on the mass and temperature distribution within the disks surrounding young stars, the place where new planets form. This information will hand over considerable clues on physical processes that determine how rocky and gaseous planets form.
The spectrum of Mars shows a carbon dioxide absorption similar to that of Earth, but no other Earth-like features.
Spectra of three terrestrial planets in our solar system.