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Zodiac II: Debris Disk Science from a Balloon

By Geoffrey Bryden, Wesley Traub, Jr. Lewis C. Roberts, Robin Bruno, Stephen Unwin, Stan Backovsky, Paul Brugarolas, Supriya Chakrabarti, Pin Chen, Lynne Hillenbrand, John Krist, Charles Lillie, Bruce Macintosh, Dimitri Mawet, Bertrand Mennesson, Dwight Moody, Zahidul Rahman, Justin Rey, Karl Stapelfeldt, David Stuchlik, John Trauger and Gautam Vasisht


Zodiac II is a proposed balloon-borne science investigation of debris disks around nearby stars. Debris disks are analogs of the Asteroid Belt (mainly rocky) and Kuiper Belt (mainly icy) in our Solar System. Zodiac II will measure the size, shape, brightness, and color of a statistically significant sample of disks. These measurements will enable us to probe these fundamental questions: what do debris disks tell us about the evolution of planetary systems; how are debris disks produced; how are debris disks shaped by planets; what materials are debris disks made of; how much dust do debris disks make as they grind down; and how long do debris disks live? In addition, Zodiac II will observe hot, young exoplanets as targets of opportunity. The Zodiac II instrument is a 1.1-m diameter SiC telescope and an imaging coronagraph on a gondola carried by a stratospheric balloon. Its data product is a set of images of each targeted debris disk in four broad visiblewavelength bands. Zodiac II will address its science questions by taking high-resolution, multi-wavelength images of the debris disks around tens of nearby stars. Mid-latitude flights are considered: overnight test flights within the United States followed by half-global flights in the Southern Hemisphere. These longer flights are required to fully explore the set of known debris disks accessible only to Zodiac II. On these targets, it will be 100 times more sensitive than the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys (HST/ACS); no existing telescope can match the Zodiac II contrast and resolution performance. A second objective of Zodiac II is to use the near-space environment to raise the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of SiC mirrors, internal coronagraphs, deformable mirrors, and wavefront sensing and control, all potentially needed for a future space-based telescope for high-contrast exoplanet imaging

Publisher: Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
Year: 2011
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