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Proceedings Paper

Identifying organic molecules in space: the AstroBiology Explorer (ABE) mission concept
Author(s): Kimberly A. Ennico; Scott A. Sandford
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Paper Abstract

The AstroBiology Explorer (ABE) mission concept consists of a dedicated space observatory having a 60 cm class primary mirror cooled to T < 50 K equipped with medium resolution cross-dispersed spectrometers having cooled large format near- and mid-infrared detector arrays. Such a system would be capable of addressing outstanding problems in Astrochemistry and Astrophysics that are particularly relevant to Astrobiology and addressable via astronomical observation. The mission's observational program would make fundamental scientific progress in establishing the nature, distribution, formation and evolution of organic and other molecular materials in the following extra-terrestrial environments: 1) The Outflow of Dying Stars, 2) The Diffuse Interstellar Medium, 3) Dense Molecular Clouds, Star Formation Regions, and Young Stellar/Planetary Systems, 4) Planets, Satellites, and Small Bodies within the Solar System, and 5) The Interstellar Media of Other Galaxies. ABE could make fundamental progress in all of these areas by conducting a 1 to 2 year mission to obtain a coordinated set of infrared spectroscopic observations over the 2.5-20 micron spectral range at a spectral resolution of R > 2000 of about 1500 objects including galaxies, stars, planetary nebulae, young stellar objects, and solar system objects.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 October 2004
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 5487, Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Space Telescopes, (12 October 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.550236
Show Author Affiliations
Kimberly A. Ennico, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Scott A. Sandford, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5487:
Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Space Telescopes
John C. Mather, Editor(s)

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