Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain
Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain

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Tinetti G.,University College London | Cho J.Y.-K.,QMUL | Griffith C.A.,UoA | Grasset O.,Un. Nantes | And 121 more authors.
Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union | Year: 2010

The science of extra-solar planets is one of the most rapidly changing areas of astrophysics and since 1995 the number of planets known has increased by almost two orders of magnitude. A combination of ground-based surveys and dedicated space missions has resulted in 560-plus planets being detected, and over 1200 that await confirmation. NASA's Kepler mission has opened up the possibility of discovering Earth-like planets in the habitable zone around some of the 100,000 stars it is surveying during its 3 to 4-year lifetime. The new ESA's Gaia mission is expected to discover thousands of new planets around stars within 200 parsecs of the Sun. The key challenge now is moving on from discovery, important though that remains, to characterisation: what are these planets actually like, and why are they as they are In the past ten years, we have learned how to obtain the first spectra of exoplanets using transit transmission and emission spectroscopy. With the high stability of Spitzer, Hubble, and large ground-based telescopes the spectra of bright close-in massive planets can be obtained and species like water vapour, methane, carbon monoxide and dioxide have been detected. With transit science came the first tangible remote sensing of these planetary bodies and so one can start to extrapolate from what has been learnt from Solar System probes to what one might plan to learn about their faraway siblings. As we learn more about the atmospheres, surfaces and near-surfaces of these remote bodies, we will begin to build up a clearer picture of their construction, history and suitability for life. The Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory, EChO, will be the first dedicated mission to investigate the physics and chemistry of Exoplanetary Atmospheres. By characterising spectroscopically more bodies in different environments we will take detailed planetology out of the Solar System and into the Galaxy as a whole. EChO has now been selected by the European Space Agency to be assessed as one of four M3 mission candidates. © International Astronomical Union 2011.

Tinetti G.,University College London | Beaulieu J.P.,CNRS Paris Institute of Astrophysics | Henning T.,Max Planck Institute for Astronomy | Meyer M.,ETH Zurich | And 131 more authors.
Experimental Astronomy | Year: 2012

A dedicated mission to investigate exoplanetary atmospheres represents a major milestone in our quest to understand our place in the universe by placing our Solar System in context and by addressing the suitability of planets for the presence of life. EChO-the Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory-is a mission concept specifically geared for this purpose. EChO will provide simultaneous, multi-wavelength spectroscopic observations on a stable platform that will allow very long exposures. The use of passive cooling, few moving parts and well established technology gives a low-risk and potentially long-lived mission. EChO will build on observations by Hubble, Spitzer and ground-based telescopes, which discovered the first molecules and atoms in exoplanetary atmospheres. However, EChO's configuration and specifications are designed to study a number of systems in a consistent manner that will eliminate the ambiguities affecting prior observations. EChO will simultaneously observe a broad enough spectral region-from the visible to the mid-infrared-to constrain from one single spectrum the temperature structure of the atmosphere, the abundances of the major carbon and oxygen bearing species, the expected photochemically-produced species and magnetospheric signatures. The spectral range and resolution are tailored to separate bands belonging to up to 30 molecules and retrieve the composition and temperature structure of planetary atmospheres. The target list for EChO includes planets ranging from Jupiter-sized with equilibrium temperatures Teq up to 2,000 K, to those of a few Earth masses, with Teq \u223c 300 K. The list will include planets with no Solar System analog, such as the recently discovered planets GJ1214b, whose density lies between that of terrestrial and gaseous planets, or the rocky-iron planet 55 Cnc e, with day-side temperature close to 3,000 K. As the number of detected exoplanets is growing rapidly each year, and the mass and radius of those detected steadily decreases, the target list will be constantly adjusted to include the most interesting systems. We have baselined a dispersive spectrograph design covering continuously the 0. 4-16 μm spectral range in 6 channels (1 in the visible, 5 in the InfraRed), which allows the spectral resolution to be adapted from several tens to several hundreds, depending on the target brightness. The instrument will be mounted behind a 1. 5 m class telescope, passively cooled to 50 K, with the instrument structure and optics passively cooled to \u223c45 K. EChO will be placed in a grand halo orbit around L2. This orbit, in combination with an optimised thermal shield design, provides a highly stable thermal environment and a high degree of visibility of the sky to observe repeatedly several tens of targets over the year. Both the baseline and alternative designs have been evaluated and no critical items with Technology Readiness Level (TRL) less than 4-5 have been identified. We have also undertaken a first-order cost and development plan analysis and find that EChO is easily compatible with the ESA M-class mission framework. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Cernicharo J.,CAB | Marcelino N.,NRAO | Roueff E.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Gerin M.,Ecole Normale Superieure de Paris | And 2 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal Letters | Year: 2012

We report on the discovery of the methoxy radical (CH3O) toward the cold and dense core B1-b based on the observation, with the IRAM 30m radio telescope, of several lines at 3 and 2mm wavelengths. Besides this new molecular species we also report on the detection of many lines arising from methyl mercaptan (CH3SH), formic acid (HCOOH), propynal (HCCCHO), acetaldehyde (CH3CHO), dimethyl ether (CH3OCH 3), methyl formate (CH3OCOH), and the formyl radical (HCO). The column density of all these species is ≃1012 cm -2, corresponding to abundances of ≃10-11. The similarity in abundances for all these species strongly suggest that they are formed on the surface of dust grains and ejected to the gas phase through non-thermal desorption processes, most likely cosmic rays or secondary photons. Nevertheless, laboratory experiments indicate that the CH3O isomer released to the gas phase is CH2OH rather than the methoxy one. Possible gas-phase formation routes to CH3O from OH and methanol are discussed. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Tinetti G.,University College London | Drossart P.,LESIA Observatoire de Paris | Eccleston P.,Rutherford Appleton Laboratory | Hartogh P.,MPI for Solar System Research | And 42 more authors.
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2016

The Atmospheric Remote-Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (ARIEL) is one of the three candidate missions selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) for its next medium-class science mission due for launch in 2026. The goal of the ARIEL mission is to investigate the atmospheres of several hundred planets orbiting distant stars in order to address the fundamental questions on how planetary systems form and evolve. During its four (with a potential extension to six) years mission ARIEL will observe 500+ exoplanets in the visible and the infrared with its meter-class telescope in L2. ARIEL targets will include gaseous and rocky planets down to the Earth-size around different types of stars. The main focus of the mission will be on hot and warm planets orbiting close to their star, as they represent a natural laboratory in which to study the chemistry and formation of exoplanets. The ARIEL mission concept has been developed by a consortium of more than 50 institutes from 12 countries, which include UK, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Portugal. The analysis of the ARIEL spectra and photometric data in the 0.5-7.8 micron range will allow to extract the chemical fingerprints of gases and condensates in the planets' atmospheres, including the elemental composition for the most favorable targets. It will also enable the study of thermal and scattering properties of the atmosphere as the planet orbit around the star. ARIEL will have an open data policy, enabling rapid access by the general community to the high-quality exoplanet spectra that the core survey will deliver. © 2016 SPIE.

Swinyard B.,University College London | Swinyard B.,Rutherford Appleton Laboratory | Tinetti G.,University College London | Eccleston P.,Rutherford Appleton Laboratory | And 31 more authors.
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2012

The Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory (EChO) is a space mission dedicated to undertaking spectroscopy of transiting exoplanets over the widest wavelength range possible. It is based around a highly stable space platform with a 1.2 m class telescope. The mission is currently being studied by ESA in the context of a medium class mission within the Cosmic Vision programme for launch post 2020. The payload suite is required to provide simultaneous coverage from the visible to the mid-infrared and must be highly stable and effectively operate as a single instrument. In this paper we describe the integrated spectrometer payload design for EChO which will cover the 0.4 to 16 micron wavelength band. The instrumentation is subdivided into 5 channels (Visible/Near Infrared, Short Wave InfraRed, 2 x Mid Wave InfraRed; Long Wave InfraRed) with a common set of optics spectrally dividing the input beam via dichroics. We discuss the significant design issues for the payload and the detailed technical trade-offs that we are undertaking to produce a payload for EChO that can be built within the mission and programme constraints and yet which will meet the exacting scientific performance required to undertake transit spectroscopy. © 2012 SPIE.

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