Present and Future Instrumental Projects

The whole range of instrumental projects to observe and describe extrasolar planets fits within the framework of an overall scheme, whose different stages are clearly established:

• investigation and statistical analysis of giant planets: this objective may be met by use of indirect methods of observation from the ground (radial-velocity measurements and observation of transits);

• investigation and statistical analysis of terrestrial planets: this objective may be met by the use of indirect methods, primarily gravitational lensing and observation of transits from space and, in cases where the planets are very close to their parent stars, by high-precision radial-velocity measurements;

• the spectral analysis of giant planets and terrestrial planets to determine the atmospheric composition and possibly to study their habitability: this objective may mainly be tackled by use of direct methods of observation and by spectroscopic analysis.

The aim of this chapter is to describe most of the instrumental projects that are current or likely to be implemented in the next couple of decades. This chapter is thus complementary to Chap. 2, which describes the principles and instrumental concepts already implemented. Rather than just describing the principles and techniques of detection, here we lay stress on the experimental implementation of these techniques, the main difficulties, and the solutions advanced to deal with these and to obtain the necessary accuracy. The list of projects described is by no means exhaustive, nor minimal, but is in any case indicative of the different types of projects that are currently being considered:

• at the time of writing, some projects have not yet been completely defined, or have not yet emerged onto the instrumental landscape;

• certain instruments and concepts have not yet been financed, nor incorporated into the plans of the appropriate institutes or agencies, but already occupy a significant place in the overall view of the next few years, and in the minds of the astrophysical community.

Table 8.1 lists the different classes of projects with their objectives, as well as some projects representative of each class.

M. Ollivier et al., Planetary Systems. Astronomy and Astrophysics Library, DOI 978-3-540-75748-1.8, © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Table 8.1 The various classes of instrumental projects and their scientific aims, and various representative projects for each class

Type of project


Specific projects

Doppler velocimetry

Detection of giant planets and

See Sect. 8.1.1

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