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Space Missions

CIPS researchers and faculty are integrally involved in the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM). the Kepler Mission, and instrumentation development of the Multiple Instument Distributed Aperture Array Sensor (MIDAS) for missions to the Moon, Mars, and outer planets.

SIM Mission

SIM PlanetQuest, scheduled for launch within the next decade, will be the most powerful planet-hunting space telescope ever devised. Using two separated mirrors and combining their light with a technique known as interferometry, SIM PlanetQuest will able to detect planets as small as Earth. These are the kind of planets that scientists believe have the most potential to support life.

Although more than 160 planets have been discovered beyond our solar system since 1995, the "holy grail" - Earthlike planets located in the habitable zone - remains beyond the reach of current telescopes.

Kepler Mission

The Kepler Mission, a NASA Discovery mission, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to detect and characterize hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone. The habitable zone encompasses the distances from a star where liquid water can exist on a planet's surface. Results from this mission will allow us to place our solar system within the continuum of planetary systems in the Galaxy.

"MIDAS: Advanced Remote Sensing for the Exploration of Icy Satellites"
American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2005, abstract #P11B-0121

The Multiple Instrument Distributed Aperture Sensor (MIDAS) is a diffraction-limited, wide-field imaging spectrometer that utilizes distributed apertures and optical interferometer techniques to achieve simultaneous high spatial and spectral resolution. MIDAS prototypes were funded under the NASA High Capability Instrument Concepts and Technology (HCICT) program as a potential science payload for missions to the outer planets and their icy satellites. The high spatial resolution capabilities of MIDAS combined with nm spectral resolution will greatly advance our understanding of icy satellite surface composition in terms of minerals, organics, volatiles, and their mixtures. From 100 km mapping orbits, cm-scale imagery from MIDAS could revolutionize our understanding of the geology, dynamics, and history of icy moon surfaces. From higher orbits, MIDAS can engage in global, high resolution imaging spectroscopy with m-scale resolution for months at a time. Beyond traditional remote sensing, MIDAS is well suited to active techniques, including remote Raman, Fluorescence, and IR illumination investigations, in order to resolve surface composition and explore otherwise dim regions.


Center for Integrative Planetary Science (CIPS)
University of California, Berkeley, Department of Astronomy
601 Campbell Hall MS 3411, Berkeley, CA 94720-3411
(510) 642-8678