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Measuring Eta_Earth: Characterization of Terrestrial Planetary Systems with Kepler, HARPS-N, and Gaia

Objective

We propose to carry out an FP7 collaborative project to provide the first ever quantitative answer to one fundamental age-old question of mankind: ‘How common are Earth analogs in our Galaxy?’. We will achieve our goal by combining the unprecedented photometric precision of NASA’s Kepler mission, the unrivalled precision of ground-based radial-velocities from the HARPS-N spectrograph, and ESA’s Gaia mission exquisitely accurate parallaxes. Ours is a transnational collaboration between European countries and the US setup to optimize the synergy between space- and ground-based data whose scientific potential can only be fully exploited when analyzed together. We ask for manpower and resources to carry out a GTO program with HARPS-N@TNG (80 nights/yr for 5 years) to measure dynamical masses of terrestrial planet candidates identified by the Kepler mission. With the unique combination of Kepler and HARPS-N data we will learn for the first time about the physics of their interiors. Some of these planets will have characteristics (masses, radii) similar to Earth, and they might be orbiting within the habitable zone of stars much like our Sun. We will search for planets similar to Earth orbiting a carefully selected sample of nearby bright solar-type stars and red M dwarfs, providing suitable candidates for spectroscopic characterization of their atmospheres with next-generation space observatories. We will combine Kepler, HARPS-N, and Gaia data products of stars in the Kepler field to underpin the occurrence rates of terrestrial planets (η) as a function of stellar properties with unprecedented accuracy. Our unique team expertise in observations and modelling of exoplanetary systems will allow us to fully exploit the potential for breakthrough science intrinsic to this cutting-edge, multi-techniques, interdisciplinary project, making the best use of data of the highest quality gathered from NASA and ESA space missions and ground-based instrumentation.

Call for proposal

FP7-SPACE-2012-1
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

CP-FP - Small or medium-scale focused research project

Coordinator

ISTITUTO NAZIONALE DI ASTROFISICA
Address
Viale Del Parco Mellini 84
00136 Roma
Italy
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 584 380

Participants (7)

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI PADOVA
Italy
EU contribution
€ 170 550
Address
Via 8 Febbraio 2
35122 Padova
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
UNIVERSITE DE GENEVE
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 311 760
Address
Rue Du General Dufour 24
1211 Geneve
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
THE UNIVERSITY COURT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 238 328
Address
North Street 66 College Gate
KY16 9AJ St Andrews
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
THE QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 225 017
Address
University Road Lanyon Building
BT7 1NN Belfast
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 260 293
Address
Old College, South Bridge
EH8 9YL Edinburgh
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION
United States
EU contribution
€ 204 031
Address
Jefferson Drive 1000
20560 Washington Dc
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
THE UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK
United Kingdom
Address
Kirby Corner Road - University House
CV4 8UW Coventry
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments