GAIA (artistic reproduction).
ESA / Medialab
On the ground, the European organization ESO plans to search for giant planets around a few hundred starts starting in 2008 with the instrument PRIMA, set up on the 120-meter large interferometer VLTI (Very Large Telescope Interferometer) in Chile.
In space, two projects are under consideration (final stage) :
- The NASA Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) is a 20-meter large interferometer set up on a beam and composed of two 40 cm telescopes. The launch is planned in 2009. It will search for planets around 1500 nearby stars. It is sufficiently accurate for the detection of planets with a few terrestrial masses located at less than 5 pc.
- GAIA is an instrument which measures the position variations of stars with respect to all of the others (brighter than m=20). This technique allows us to measure the position variations of 1,5 billion stars. It will be accurate enough to detect planets with a size comparable to Jupiter around approximately 20000 stars. The launch is planned for 2012 by the ESA (European Space Agency).