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Starshade Rendezvous: exoplanet orbit constraints from multi-epoch direct imaging
Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems  (IF1.436),  Pub Date : 2021-06-01, DOI: 10.1117/1.jatis.7.2.021219
Andrew Romero-Wolf, Geoffrey Bryden, Greg Agnes, Jonathan W. Arenberg, Samuel Case Bradford, Simone D’Amico, John Debes, Matt Greenhouse, Renyu Hu, Steve Matousek, Jason Rhodes, John Ziemer

The addition of an external starshade to the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will enable the direct imaging of Earth-radius planets orbiting at ∼1 AU. Classification of any detected planets as Earth-like requires both spectroscopy to characterize their atmospheres and multi-epoch imaging to trace their orbits. We consider here the ability of the Starshade Rendezvous Probe to constrain the orbits of directly imaged Earth-like planets. The target list for this proposed mission consists of the 16 nearby stars best suited for direct imaging, around which ∼10 to 15 planets are expected to be discovered. Of these planets, ∼1 to 2 will be Earth-like in mass and temperature. The field of regard for the starshade mission is constrained by solar exclusion angles, resulting in four observing windows during a two-year mission. We find that for Earth-like planets that are detected at least three times during the four viewing opportunities, their semi-major axes are measured with a median precision of 7 mas, or a median fractional precision of 3%. Habitable-zone planets can be correctly identified as such 96.7% of the time, with a false positive rate of 2.8%. If a more conservative criteria are used for habitable-zone classification (95% probability), the false positive rate drops close to zero, but with only 81% of the truly Earth-like planets correctly classified as residing in the habitable zone.