Future Plans and Potential Collaborations for Ground- and Space-Based Imaging of Exo-Earths

A satellite meeting at the Pathways Towards Habitable Planets conference (Jul. 13 - 17 2015, Bern, Switzerland) on the capabilities of future ground- and space-based observatories for discovering and characterizing habitable exoplanets.

planets in space Image credit: Danielle Futselaar/SETI Institute

Technology for the direct detection and characterization of exoplanets is maturing at a dramatic rate, and we are already in the process of building or planning for the current generation of high-contrast imaging systems on the ground and in space.

However, over the next two decades we have to potential to build a new generation of ambitious, highly-capable ground- and space-based observatories, instruments, and analysis tools that will answer the most exciting questions in the study of exoplanets:

  • Where are the nearby Earth-sized planets in the Habitable Zone?
  • What do observations of their atmospheres and surfaces reveal about their potential habitability?
  • Are there signs that they currently host life?

But how do we best design these future facilities and missions to achieve these lofty goals? This "satellite meeting" is intended to be a forum where we discuss and work together to improve and innovate on existing and new ideas for the major facilities expected to be in operation by the end of the next twenty years (ELTs, ALMA, future space-based imaging missions).

We will quickly summarize existing and planned facilities within the context of synergies among them regarding the characterization of Earth-like planets, and we will then spend the bulk of the meeting discussing future mission and telescope ideas. We will have a panel discussion exploring the broad landscape of future mission and facility ideas, and opportunities for international participation will be explicitly discussed.

We encourage the submission of 1-slide mission and instrument ideas, to be presented as part of the panel discussion. As an output from the meeting, we hope to produce a short list of recommended actions to improve collaboration and development of a roadmap for the “next steps” towards discovering and characterizing Earth-like worlds.