Please, NASA, Can We Use a Spy Telescope To Detect Planets by Microlensing?

WFIRST

I am part of a group of astronomers advising NASA on what science the WFIRST space telescope could do. In particular, we think that the WFIRST mission could find extra-solar planets using microlensing. From our Report:

NASA’s proposed WFIRST-AFTA mission will discover thousands of exoplanets with separations from the habitable zone out to unbound planets, using the technique of gravitational microlensing. The Study Analysis Group 11 of the NASA Exoplanet Program Analysis Group was convened to explore scientific programs that can be undertaken now, and in the years leading up to WFIRST’s launch, in order to maximize the mission’s scientific return and to reduce technical and scientific risk. This report presents those findings, which include suggested precursor Hubble Space Telescope observations, a ground-based, NIR microlensing survey, and other programs to develop and deepen community scientific expertise prior to the mission.

Read the full report here.

Here is a Hollywood inspired trailer about WFIRST.

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