Published October 21, 2019 | Version v1
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Exoplanet instrumentation in the 2020s: Canada's pathway towards searching for life on potentially Earth-like exoplanets


The next decade presents a unique moment in the history of planetary astronomy. For the first time, we have the technologies at hand to discover and characterize a wide range of exoplanetary systems, possibly harboring true Earth analogues. The opportunity is no less than answering humanity’s millennia old questions of “Are we alone?” and “How did we get here?”. The best part: Canada can play a leading role in this historic endeavor, if we make deliberate strategic investments over the next decade. In this white paper, we lay out pathways to develop the necessary instrumentation in collaboration with national and international partners to address the most fundamental questions regarding the formation of planets, the diversity of planetary systems, and the frequency of life in the universe. We recommend critical investments in a portfolio of assets including high-dispersion coronagraphy instrumentation for the upcoming ground based 30-meter class telescopes, a strong (JWST-scale) Canadian involvement in the next generation space missions LUVOIR or HabEx, and support for small and large space missions led by Canada. Importantly, while the science case of searching for biomarkers on rocky exoplanets presents the most stringent design requirements, the proposed instrumentation will also be ideal for the characterization of giant exoplanets, sub-Neptunes, and super-Earths and address a wide range of science questions in the coming decade.


White paper identifier W065


W065 Benneke Exoplanet Instrumentation.pdf

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