Planet Discoverer Interferometer I: PDI, a potential precursor to Terrestrial Planet Finder

Neville J. Woolf, James Roger P. Angel, Charles A. Beichman, James H. Burge, Michael Shao, Domenick J. Tenerelli

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We consider a possible precursor interferometer to Terrestrial Planet Finder. The precursor called Planet Discoverer Interferometer (PDI) would search for broadband 10 μm radiation from possible terrestrial planets orbiting stars out to a distance of 8-10pc and at an angular separation of at least 0.1 arcseconds. There are about 20 stars of types A,F,G and K around which an Earth-analog might be detected. PDI would be able to confirm such planets by seeing their orbital motion. PDI would also be able to observe 5 μm radiation from the more massive and younger gas-giant planets around stars up to distances ∼ 150 pc, separated from their star by more than 0.05 arc seconds. It would also see the re-radiated thermal radiation of Jupiter-like planets at temperatures above ∼130K. The device would be a 15m long truss with four SIRTF-like telescopes. It would need to be in a SIRTF-like Earth-trailing orbit, and would be radiatively cooled. A very preliminary design suggest that PDI could fit into the shroud of a Delta II rocket. Similar preliminary calculations suggest that the total lifetime cost of such a mission would be under $300M. Detailed studies of this concept are in process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-689
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 1998
EventAstronomical Interferometry - Kona, HI, United States
Duration: Mar 20 1998Mar 20 1998


  • Extrasolar
  • Interferometer
  • Origins
  • Planets
  • Terrestrial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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