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Astro2010 Whitepapers

The New Worlds Observer
presentation by W. Cash made at SPIE 7436, San Diego, CA, August 4, 2009

The New Worlds Observer
SPIE Publication to go with above talk.

Spacecraft Formation Control: Managing Line-of-Sight Drift Based on the Dynamics of Relative Motion
Richard J. Luquette (Goddard Space Flight Center) and Robert M. Sanner (U. of Maryland)
Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Formation Flying Missions and Technologies, ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, 23-25 April 2008

Poster: Detecting Biosignatures of an Evolving Earth-like Atmosphere via New Worlds Observer
Julia DeMarines, Webster Cash, Giada Arney, Phil Oakley, University of Colorado
AbSciCon2008, Santa Clara, California, 14-17 April 2008

Spectroscopy and Photometry of Terrestrial Exoplanet Atmospheres
Rebecca Mickol, Giada Arney, Phil Oakley, Webster Cash, University of Colorado
AbSciCon 2008, Santa Clara, California, 14-17 April 2008

New Worlds Observer is a revolutionary idea in extrasolar planet detection. New Worlds aims to detect and analyze terrestrial extrasolar planets through the use of a space telescope and an external occulter. The specific shape of the starshade limits diffraction and creates a deep shadow for the telescope to sit in. The starshade blocks the light of the parent star, allowing the telescope to view its planetary system. The telescope may be of conventional quality and a size of several meters to achieve adequate resolution and collecting area.

In the search for terrestrial exoplanets, New Worlds will use spectroscopy and photometry to identify and analyze atmospheric components. For example, with an integration time of one million seconds and spectral resolution of 200, we can achieve a 14-sigma detection of the A-band of Oxygen (at 760nm) on an Earth analog at 10pc. For the water band at 960nm, we can achieve a 25-sigma detection.

Similarly New Worlds is capable of crude mapping of planetary surfaces through analysis of bi-directional reflection spectrums. The brightness of the planet tells us the composition of surface features, including the ability to map oceans versus continents. Only four to five days of mapping enable a pattern to develop indicating the planet’s rotation rate. In essence, New Worlds Observer is a Lifefinder mission capable of analyzing the full chemical balance of exoplanets in the search for life.

Presentation: Detecting Biosignatures of an Evolving Earth-like Atmosphere via New Worlds Observer
Julia DeMarines, Webster Cash, Giada Arney, Phil Oakley, University of Colorado
AbSciCon2008, Santa Clara, California, 14-17 April 2008

Over 200 extrasolar planets have been found in the last decade using indirect means, such as Doppler shit, and only one extrasolar planet has been directly imaged. New Worlds Observer is a mission that will revolutionize the direct detection of extrasolar planets by not only having the capability to image terrestrial-sized planets close to the star, but will also be able to analyze the spectrum of the planet’s atmosphere and surface. We have simulated what an “Earth” will look like as a function of its atmospheric evolution. The biosignatures of the Earth are shown to evolve significantly and the current Earth is not the same as the younger Earth. We have found that the now-vanished signatures of a young life-bearing planet could be visible to the New Worlds Observer. NOW uses the visible band for detection of biosignatures like O2 (at 761 nm) and CH4 (at 725 nm). In our simulations we have been able to detect O2 at levels well below the current abundance and CH4 at levels well below those found on the younger Earth. This presents the possibility of detecting microbial life (methanogens) as early as 1.5 billion years after the formation of a planet, or photosynthetic life on a more mature planet.

2008 Presentation to the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts
Webster Cash, University of Colorado at Boulder
January 2008, University of Colorado at Boulder

2007 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Mission Design Paper
Tiffany Glassman, Amy Lo, Chuck Lillie, and Keith Kroening
Northrop Grumman Corporation, Redondo Beach, CA, 90278

Optical performance of the New Worlds Occulter
C. R. Physique (2007), doi:10.1016/j.crhy.2007.03.005

Large Precision Deployables for Exo-Planet Missions
Charles Lillie, Amy S. Lo, Ron Polidan, Jon Arenberg, Tiffany Glassman
Northrop Grumman Space Technology, Redondo Beach, CA 90278

New Worlds Observer Optical Performance
Amy S. Lo, Tiffany Glassman, Chuck Lillie
Northrop Grumman Corporation

Formation Flying System Design for a Planet-Finding Telescope-Occulter System
Jesse Leitner
Code 591, NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, MD, USA

Poster: New Worlds Observer Poster for Astrobiology Conference in Puerto Rico
Julia DeMarines, University of Colorado at Boulder
Bioastronomy 2007, Hotel Condado Plaza, Puerto Rico, 16-20 July 2007

This poster introduces New Worlds Observer (NWO) in the context of astrobiology. The poster illustrates what NWO will be able to discover in terms of spectral analysis and photometry, and explains the relevance of these findings to the field of astrobiology.

External Occulters for the Direct Study of Exoplanets
Webster Cash, University of Colorado at Boulder
ExoPlanet Task Force Call for Whitepapers, 8 April 2007
8 pages

This paper was submitted to the ExoPlanet Task Force in April in response to the task force’s call for white papers. This paper summarizes an affordable, technically-ready, observational approach to finding and characterizing habitable, terrestrial extrasolar planets based on a recent breakthrough in the diffraction control of starshades. The paper illustrates the efficiency with which spectroscopy, photometry, and polarimetry can be performed due to the unique design of the New Worlds starshade. The paper explains configuration, science goals, operations concept, requirements and capabilities, technical readiness, and programmatics and cost for the New Worlds Observer mission.

Powerpoint presented to Goddard Space Flight Center
Webster Cash, University of Colorado at Boulder
Goddard Space Flight Center, February 2007
Presentation, 70 slides

This presentation emphasizes the importance direct detection and imaging of extrasolar planets can have on astrophysics. The presentation contrasts the abilities of New Worlds Observer with those of Terrestrial Planet Finder and Darwin. External occulters are described and diagrammed to illustrate New Worlds’ operations concept. The fifteen middle slides illustrate the solution to the diffraction problem solved by Dr. Webster Cash. The starshade is shaped through binary apodization which limits the diffraction of starlight around the edges of the occulter. The presentation depicts simulated images of solar systems, possible with New Worlds technology. Included in the presentation are tolerance analysis, deployment sequences and orbit positions. The last six slides conclude with the concept for New Worlds Imager, the concept for a mission to directly image terrestrial extrasolar planets.




Age of Space Exploration
The Search for Worlds
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