EDWARDS B., MUGNAI L., TINETTI G., PASCALE E. and SARKAR S.
Abstract (from CDS):
Ariel has been selected as ESA's M4 mission for launch in 2028 and is designed for the characterization of a large and diverse population of exoplanetary atmospheres to provide insights into planetary formation and evolution within our Galaxy. Here we present a study of Ariel's capability to observe currently known exoplanets and predicted Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) discoveries. We use the Ariel radiometric model (ArielRad) to simulate the instrument performance and find that ∼2000 of these planets have atmospheric signals which could be characterized by Ariel. This list of potential planets contains a diverse range of planetary and stellar parameters. From these we select an example mission reference sample (MRS), comprised of 1000 diverse planets to be completed within the primary mission life, which is consistent with previous studies. We also explore the mission capability to perform an in-depth survey into the atmospheres of smaller planets, which may be enriched or secondary. Earth-sized planets and super-Earths with atmospheres heavier than H/He will be more challenging to observe spectroscopically. However, by studying the time required to observe ∼110 Earth-sized/super-Earths, we find that Ariel could have substantial capability for providing in-depth observations of smaller planets. Trade-offs between the number and type of planets observed will form a key part of the selection process and this list of planets will continually evolve with new exoplanet discoveries replacing predicted detections. The Ariel target list will be constantly updated and the MRS re-selected to ensure maximum diversity in the population of planets studied during the primary mission life.