Current Project Status:
NASA has chosen two TPF mission architecture concepts for further study and technology development.
The two candidate architectures are:
Infrared Interferometer (TPF-I): Multiple small telescopes on
a fixed structure or on separated spacecraft flying in
precision formation would imitate a much larger, very
efficient telescope. The interferometer would utilize a
technique called nulling to reduce the starlight by a factor
of one million, thus enabling the detection of the very
vague and faint infrared emission from the planets.
Visible Light Coronagraph (TPF-C): A large optical telescope,
with a mirror three to four times larger and at least 100
times more precise than the Hubble Space Telescope, would
collect starlight and the very dim reflected light from the
planets. The telescope would have specific optics to downscale
the starlight by a factor of one billion, thus enabling
astronomers to detect the faint planets.
These two was selected from more than a 60
possible designs. These two architectures were determined to
be sufficiently realistic to warrant further study and
technological development in support of a launch of
Terrestrial Planet Finder.
Current Launch Date Status:
last updated: 29.january.2011
It was to be anticipated that one of
the two architectures will be selected in 2005 or 2006 to
be implemented for the mission.
At the year 2005 THE Launch was anticipated to take place between 2012-2015.
As June of 2008, NASA's actual funding has not actualized, and TPF remains without an official launch date. The expceted theoretical launch dates are either around 2014 or about 2020.
Other Similar Projects on the Run:
ESA researchers are planning to conduct formation-flying tests with their SMART-3 technology mission in upcoming years, the results of which could prove very valuable to both the European Darwin effort and TPF as well.
Even the more advanced TPF and Darwin missions will help other researchers to plan the eventual Life Finder and Planet Imager telescopes (these are NASA's actual future visions) that could be operational about 10 years after the TPF's success.
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