National Academies Press: OpenBook

Exoplanet Science Strategy (2018)

Chapter: Appendix A: Statement of Task

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Exoplanet Science Strategy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25187.
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A Statement of Task In preparation for and as an input to the upcoming decadal surveys in astronomy and astrophysics and planetary science, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will appoint an ad hoc committee to perform a study with the following objectives:  Survey the status of the field of exoplanet science, including the use of current and planned facilities such as Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, the James Webb Space Telescope, the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope, and any other telescope, spacecraft, or instrument, as appropriate.  Recommend an Exoplanet Science Strategy that outlines the key scientific questions for exoplanet science and research and related near-, medium-, and far-term measurement and technology goals. The Strategy will include the search for life in the universe as well as cross- discipline opportunities in Earth science, astrophysics, heliophysics, and planetary science.  Discuss which of the key goals of the committee’s Strategy could be addressed via current decadal survey recommended priority activities and also identify opportunities for coordination with international partners, commercial partners, and not-for-profit partners. In the course of conducting this study, the committee will consider and regularly consult with the concurrent study “State of the Science of Astrobiology,” in the area of assessing habitability, searching for signs of life, and other relevant areas of scientific overlap. Also the committee will not revisit or redefine the scientific priorities or mission recommendations from previous decadal surveys. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION A-1

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The past decade has delivered remarkable discoveries in the study of exoplanets. Hand-in-hand with these advances, a theoretical understanding of the myriad of processes that dictate the formation and evolution of planets has matured, spurred on by the avalanche of unexpected discoveries. Appreciation of the factors that make a planet hospitable to life has grown in sophistication, as has understanding of the context for biosignatures, the remotely detectable aspects of a planet’s atmosphere or surface that reveal the presence of life.

Exoplanet Science Strategy highlights strategic priorities for large, coordinated efforts that will support the scientific goals of the broad exoplanet science community. This report outlines a strategic plan that will answer lingering questions through a combination of large, ambitious community-supported efforts and support for diverse, creative, community-driven investigator research.

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