LIFE will primarily be sensitive to the effective temperature of the planets; whether surface temperatures can be measured or estimated depends strongly on the properties of the atmospheres. How cold a planet can be while still being detectable with LIFE depends on the assumed sensitivity (which in turn depends primarily on the aperture size and … Continued
Which surface temperature should planets have to be detected with LIFE? What is the lower limit?
We have an “Other Science” working group currently in the process of exploring this. From previous studies it is known that there can be compelling science cases for circumstellar disks and star formation, active galactic nuclei (AGN), and evolved stars. It has to be kept in mind, though, that the exoplanet science case will drive … Continued
For the moment we have been focusing on a database that contains main-sequence stars out to 20 pc. In LIFE paper 1 we describe in the appendix how this database that includes >1700 objects was created. The cut at 20 pc is arbitrary, but our yield simulations in paper 1 have shown that for the … Continued
That depends on the final list of scientific objectives. For sure LIFE will look at nearby main sequence stars that are typically a few Gyr old in order to detect and characterize the planets orbiting these stars. One could imagine additional science cases related to younger stars and younger planets.
Yes, there were some studies about this made for DARWIN and the same conclusions hold for LIFE. We discuss this topic also in LIFE paper 1. The bottom line is that asymmetries in exozodi disks, such as geometric offsets from the central star or structural overdensities in the dust, do play a role, but are … Continued
Indeed, if a sufficiently large target sample is known that allows LIFE to fulfil (most of its) scientific objectives, the search phase could be shortened or completely skipped. However, at the moment, we need to be prepared to first invest some time in detecting the most promising targets.
A lot of molecules, including those that are relevant from an astrobiology perspective – so called “atmospheric biomarkers” – do have spectral features that fall into the spectral range of the LIFE mission (see below for some examples). However, whether they are indeed detectable with LIFE depends on their abundance in the atmosphere, where they … Continued