Artist's rendering of the proposed Fast Infrared Exoplanet Spectroscopy Survey Explorer - or FINESSE -- spacecraft orbiting above Earth.
Proposed for launch in 2016 as part of NASA's Explorers Program, FINESSE would take the first "family portrait" of extrasolar planets. As the first mission dedicated to characterizing the diverse and rapidly growing exoplanet family, FINESSE would probe the atmospheres of more than 200 transiting exoplanets using an Earth-orbiting telescope equipped with a highly stable infrared spectrograph.
During its two-year mission, FINESSE would explore a variety of newly discovered worlds, ranging from hot Jupiter-like planets to super Earths. Interpretation of FINESSE measurements will reveal the composition, temperature structure, and chemistry of exoplanet atmospheres and provides a basis for comparing exoplanets in a uniform way.
FINESSE is a partnership involving the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ball Aerospace, the Raytheon Company, Northrop Grumman, Teledyne and IPAC (Caltech).
For more information, see http://finesse.jpl.nasa.gov/.