RoSETZ: Roman Survey of the Earth Transit Zone -- a SETI-optimized survey for habitable-zone exoplanets


In this White Paper for Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (Roman) science, we propose the Roman Survey of the Earth Transit Zone (RoSETZ), a transit search for rocky planets within the habitable zones (HZs) of stars located within the Earth Transit Zone (ETZ). The ETZ holds special interest in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) - observers on planets within the ETZ can see Earth as a transiting planet. RoSETZ would augment the Roman Galactic Bulge Time Domain Survey (GBTDS) as an additional field located $\sim 5$~degrees away from other GBTDS fields. Our simulations show that RoSETZ alone can find from 120 to 630 Earth-sized HZ planets around K- and M-type hosts, with the range reflecting different survey design assumptions. These yields are 5-20 times the number currently known. Such a sample will transform our knowledge of ``Eta-Earth’’ ($\eta_{\oplus}$) – the occurrence of Earth-sized HZ planets – and would be the first catalogue of exoplanets selected in a manner optimized according to the Mutual Detectability targetted-SETI strategy. If it can be accommodated alongside the existing GBTDS design, we favour a RoSETZ-Max design that is observed for the duration of the GBTDS. If not, we show that a slimmed-down RoSETZ-Lite design, occupying two GBTDS seasons, would not significantly impact overall GBTDS exoplanet yields, even if time allocated to it had to come from time allocations to other fields. We argue that the angular separation of RoSETZ from other GBTDS fields permits self-calibration of systematic uncertainties that would otherwise hamper exoplanet demographic modelling of both microlensing and transit datasets. Other science possible with RoSETZ data include studies of small solar system bodies and high resolution 3D extinction mapping.

NASA Roman Core Community Survey
Evan L. Sneed
Evan L. Sneed
he/him or they/them

Human searching for life far from home & improving habitability on Earth