NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP): Overview
The Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP) is responsible for implementing NASA’s plans for the discovery and understanding of planetary systems around nearby stars. ExEP plays an important function in exoplanet research, by laying out a long-term view of the entire field and charting out a strategic timeline of missions and instruments. The Program in depth explains the motivations and activities of the Program in more detail. Two of the key guiding documents are:
- Astrophysics Implementation Plan captures NASA’s short to medium-term objectives for the Program. (The Plan covers all of astrophysics, not just exoplanets). Below are links to the elements of the Program currently in operation (like Kepler), in operation (LBTI), or under study (WFIRST and the Probe-scale concepts).
- Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey conducted by the National Research Council (NRC). The most recent Report, New Worlds, New Horizons, along with detailed Panel Reports, was issued in 2010, and a mid-decadal review was published in 2016. This is major activity by the NRC, undertaken approximately every 10 years, to engage the broad astronomy community to produce a new Report.
The Decade Horizon Schedule explains, at a high level, the relationships between the Program elements, and how they fit in a timeline that extends for approximately a decade.