One of NASA’s proposed missions, known as the Fast INfrared Exoplanet Spectroscopy Survey Explorer (FINESSE), could greatly improve our understanding of extrasolar worlds.
If selected for development, the spacecraft will investigate at least 500 exoplanet atmospheres, providing detailed information about climate processes on distant alien planets.
The mission’s main objective is to study the processes that govern planet formation and global climate. It will investigate the mechanisms that establish the atmospheric chemical composition of exoplanets as well as the processes involved in atmospheric evolution. FINESSE is one of the agency’s six astrophysics Explorers Program proposals that could be selected by 2019 to proceed with construction and launch.
“FINESSE will spectroscopically observe the atmospheres of many hundreds of transiting exoplanets to measure their molecular abundances and thermal profiles,” Robert Zellem, FINESSE science team member at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), told Astrowatch.net. “FINESSE has the capability in its two-year mission to observe the atmospheres of over 1000 transiting exoplanet.”