Transmission spectroscopy of transiting exoplanets provides our best opportunity to identify the makeup of planetary atmospheres in the coming decade. However, stellar surface brightness inhomogeneities due to features such as star spots, can impact these measurements and contaminate the observed spectra. I will present the Pandora SmallSat mission that is designed to disentangle star and planet signals in transmission spectra to reliably determine exoplanet atmosphere compositions. Pandora’s long-duration, multiwavelength (visible and NIR) observations will provide constraints on star spot coverage and the impact of these active regions on exoplanetary transmission spectra. Selected for NASA’s inaugural Astrophysics Pioneers program, Pandora will observe a wide range of star types (mid-K to late-M) and planet sizes (Earth- to Jupiter-size). Pandora’s legacy will be a data archive of long-duration, simultaneous multiwavelength observations and a catalog of benchmark planets that will aid in target selection for James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and future exoplanet missions. I will also highlight some of my team’s ongoing research at NASA Goddard focused on detecting and characterizing exoplanets and their host stars using panchromatic data obtained concurrently with ground and space-based observatories.
Host: Andrew Vanderburg