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One of NASA's proposed missions, known as the Fast INfrared Exoplanet Spectroscopy Survey Explorer (FINESSE), could greatly improve our understanding of extrasolar worlds. If selected for development, the spacecraft will investigate at least 500 exoplanet atmospheres, providing detailed information about climate processes on distant alien planets.
FINESSE has been recently chosen by NASA for concept studies and evaluations. It is one of the agency's six astrophysics Explorers Program proposals, which could be selected by 2019 to proceed with construction and launch.
Mission - Objective - Processes - Formation - Climate
The mission's main objective is to study the processes that govern planet formation and global climate. It will investigate the mechanisms that establish atmospheric chemical composition and shape atmospheric evolution.
"FINESSE will spectroscopically observe the atmospheres of many hundreds of transiting exoplanets to measure their molecular abundances and thermal profiles," Robert Zellem, FINESSE science team member at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), told Astrowatch.net.
Order - Studies - FINESSE - Transit - Method
In order to conduct the planned studies, FINESSE will use the transit method. It will measure how a planet's atmosphere absorbs light from its host star as a function of wavelength. This will allow researchers to infer the molecules in the planet's atmosphere.
"By doing this for hundreds of planets, FINESSE will determine how planets form and...
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