Blue Dots

Second announcement

Dear colleague,

You are a primary recipient of this email because of your known involvement into exoplanets studies (registration to one related mailing list).

As you probably know, the current round of Cosmic Vision assessment studies by the European Space Agency does not include missions geared towards the detection and characterization of habitable exoplanets. A meeting was held at IAS Orsay last December to draw the conclusions from this process and I was designated to set up and coordinate a committee to drive and promote this objective within a wider community than the traditional Darwin base.

The current plan is therefore to constitute a Blue Dots Team (BDT for short) whose goal is to prepare a roadmap towards the detection and characterization of habitable exoplanets. The scope of the BDT is science oriented and not restricted to a particular detection technique, and some networking activity will be needed to integrate the perspectives from different communities. The aim is to establish a consensus around this roadmap during a conference to be held in 2009. Projects issued from this roadmap would then be well positionned in the future competitions of our space (and possibly ground) agencies, and the BDT will work to take forward their promotion.

For better efficiency, I would like to limit the size of the BDT to 15 people, striking as much as possible a thematic (and geographic) balance. Each team member will therefore act as a coordinator of a small group of experts for his/her topic, collecting the inputs from the community and synthetizing the results for the BDT. The (tentative) list of topics is:

Science themes:
- Formation and evolution of planetary systems
- Biological niches
- Exoplanet structures & history models
- Exoplanetary atmospheres (modelling and observations)
- Signatures interpretation & biomarkers
- Target selection & background checks

Instrumentation themes:
- Transits
- Coronography
- Interferometric nulling
- Radial velocity
- Astrometry
- Microlensing

- European networking & funding search
- International cooperation
- Links with the industry
- Public outreach & education

Needless to say, a coordinator in one group can also be an expert in another group. Members of the International cooperation and European networking sub-team will include one representative from each major agency (if they so wish). These representatives will participate in joint meetings of the BDT (along with the science/instrumentation coordinators) so that they can remain fully aware of its activities.

So, please let me know (by email at, and before February 18th) if you are interested into participating to the work of the Blue Dots Team, and what your contribution might be. Also feel free to circulate this message as needed. Please note that at the moment, there are no specific funds to support the activities of the BDT, although we will address this issue as soon as we are constituted into a team.

Best regards,

Vincent Coudé du Foresto

Friday 1 February 2008 by Vincent Coudé du Foresto