The Pandora SmallSat: Multiwavelength Characterization of Exoplanets and their Host Stars
- 1. University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Pandora is a SmallSat is designed to study the atmospheres of exoplanets. Transmission spectroscopy of transiting exoplanets provides our best opportunity to identify the makeup of planetary atmospheres in the coming decade. Stellar brightness variations due to star spots, however, can impact these measurements and contaminate the observed spectra. Pandora’s goal is to disentangle star and planet signals in transmission spectra to reliably determine exoplanet atmosphere compositions. Pandora will collect long-duration photometric observations with a visible-light channel and simultaneous spectra with a near-IR channel. The broad-wavelength coverage will provide constraints on the spot and faculae covering fractions of low-mass exoplanet host stars and the impact of these active regions on exoplanetary transmission spectra. Pandora will subsequently identify exoplanets with hydrogen- or water-dominated atmospheres, and robustly determine which planets are covered by clouds and hazes. Pandora will observe at least 20 exoplanets with sizes ranging from Earth-size to Jupiter-size and host stars spanning mid-K to late-M spectral types.
Pandora is designed for long stares at exoplanet host stars.