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Proceedings Paper

Identifying organic molecules in space: the AstroBiology Explorer (ABE) MIDEX misson concept
Author(s): Scott Sandford; Louis Allamandola; Jesse D. Bregman; Kimberly A. Ennico; Thomas P. Greene; Douglas Hudgins; Donald W. Strecker
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Paper Abstract

In this paper we review our current state of knowledge regarding the identity of organic and related compounds in the interstellar medium (ISM). The remote detection and identification of organics is ideally suited to the technique of infrared spectroscopy since such data can be obtained telescopically and this spectral range encompasses the fundamental vibrational modes of common molecular bonds. Despite recent advances in our knowledge of the organic component of the ISM, we are still far from understanding the distribution, abundance and evolutionary inter- relationship of these materials within our galaxy and the universe as a whole. Many of these issues can be addressed by the acquisition of new infrared spectra. We briefly describe a potential new Explorer-class space mission capable of obtaining such data, the AstroBiology Explorer (ABE) which consists of a space observatory capable of obtaining spectra in the 2.5-16.0 micrometers range at a spectral resolution of (Delta) $lamda/(lambda) equals 2000-3000. ABE would be capable of addressing outstanding problems in Astrochemistry and Astrophysics that are particularly relevant to Astrobiology and addressable via astronomical observation. ABE would have approximately one year lifetime during which it would obtain a coordinated set of infrared spectroscopic observations of large numbers of galaxies, stars, planetary nebulae, interstellar clouds, young star planetary systems and objects within our own Solar System.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 February 2002
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4495, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology IV, (5 February 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.454757
Show Author Affiliations
Scott Sandford, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Louis Allamandola, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Jesse D. Bregman, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Kimberly A. Ennico, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Thomas P. Greene, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Douglas Hudgins, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Donald W. Strecker, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4495:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology IV
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Roland R. Paepe; Alexei Yu. Rozanov, Editor(s)

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