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Biology Articles » Astrobiology » The occurrence of Jovian planets and the habitability of planetary systems » Future Prospects

Future Prospects
- The occurrence of Jovian planets and the habitability of planetary systems

Prospects for the future study of extrasolar giant planets seem bright. Transit searches from ground and space will allow characterization of the properties of a fraction of the planets detected by Doppler spectroscopy. Astrometry from interferometers on the ground and in space will fill in the statistics of the occurrence of giant planets in orbits extending to 5 AU or so, for planets down to 10 Earth masses (49). Direct imaging searches implemented on 8-meter or larger telescopes and culminating in spaceborne imaging interferometers (41), will allow giant planets in orbits beyond 5 AU around nearby stars to be detected and atmospheric properties studied through spectroscopy. Microlensing surveys are capable of mapping the mass distribution of planets around stars in distant regions of the observable galaxy (but without detailed study of individual planets) (50). Space does not permit a more detailed analysis of the outcome of such future studies. However, the ability to search for and characterize giant planets by a variety of techniques certainly bodes well for a time, perhaps two decades hence, when we will thoroughly understand the frequency, nature, and dynamical effects on terrestrial planets of giant planets around other stars.


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