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2004 Annual Science Report

Virtual Planetary Laboratory (JPL/CalTech) Reporting  |  JUL 2003 – JUN 2004

Executive Summary


Laying the Scientific Foundation for the Search for Life Beyond the Solar System

Because of the vast distances to even the nearest stars, the search for life outside our solar system will be undertaken using astronomical, or “remote-sensing” techniques. While much can be learned about a planet discovered around another star based on the characteristics of the host star and the planet’s position in its solar system, spectroscopy is still our most powerful technique for extrasolar planet characterization. The research of the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory (VPL) uses computer models of terrestrial planets to understand the nature and potential range of remote-sensing spectroscopic signs of planetary habitability and life which might be encountered by future planet detection and characterization missions.

Terrestrial Planet Detection and Characterization Missions

There are several missions currently in the planning stage to search for and ...

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