terrestrial planet finder
•  a Space telescope to find planets outside from our solar-system as small as Earth • 

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 Mission Goal
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Mission Goal - to find Earth-like planets :

The primary scientific goal of TPF is the direct detection and characterization of Earth-like planets that orbit nearby stars. Specifically, TPF will seek answers to these questions:

  • Are there Earth-like planets in the "habitable zones" around their parent stars where the surface temperature is capable of supporting liquid water over a range of surface pressures?
  • What are the compositions of the atmospheres of terrestrial planets orbiting nearby stars? Is water, carbon monoxide, or carbon dioxide present?
  • Are there atmospheric components or conditions attributable to primitive life, such as ozone or molecular oxygen, seen in the Earth's atmosphere?
  • How do planets form out of disks of solid and gaseous material around young stars?

Similar planet studies :

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.
mars-venus spectra
Spectra of three terrestrial planets in our solar system.

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