Is LIFE the first space mission using mid-infrared (MIR)? If not, how is LIFE different from previous missions?

No, previous space missions covered a similar wavelength regime as we are planning for LIFE. This includes for instance the Spitzer Space Telescope, but also even older missions such as ISO, IRAS, AKARI (albeit not all covering exactly the same wavelength range and spectroscopic capabilities). Also, the soon-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will feature … Continued

What is the current status of the link to ESA? Which proposals/ideas/white papers are currently submitted?

We proposed the ‘science of LIFE’ to ESA in the context of the currently ongoing Voyage2050 process (see, This process is supposed to guide ESA’s long-term planning of the Science Program for the years ~2035-2050. Dozens of white papers were submitted covering a wide range of planetary science, astrophysics, solar physics and fundamental physics … Continued

How does the concept of LIFE differ from DARWIN?

In the early 2000s the idea of a space-based mid-infrared nulling interferometer for exoplanet science was already studied by both ESA (the Darwin mission) and NASA (the TPF-I mission (TPF-I = Terrestrial Planet Finder – Interferometer)). LIFE is built on the heritage of these efforts and we take into account all their results and learnings … Continued

What is the difference to (advantage over?) HabEx/LUVOIR?

The NASA HabEx and LUVOIR mission concepts have the same primary science objectives as LIFE: the direct detection of (small) exoplanets and the investigation of their atmospheres incl. the search for biosignatures. The main difference is that HabEx /LUVOIR will work at UV/optical/near-infrared wavelengths (possibly up to ~2.5 micron) which will allow them to detect … Continued