Characterization of Exoplanet Atmospheres
The number of discovered exoplanets continues to grow geometrically, now numbering more than 4000. A fraction of these are amenable to direct spectroscopic characterization by the methods of remote sensing. To date, the Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have been enlisted in the campaign, but soon the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and WFIRST will be launched. They have capabilities that exceed by wide margins those of the current generation of telescopes and will be unique resources for the detailed probing of exoplanetary atmospheres, inaugurating the era of comparative exoplanetology. JWST in particular will have a panchromatic reach from ~0.6 microns to ~28 microns, an interval in which numerous molecules have distinctive spectroscopic signatures. I will discuss in this talk the science anticipated from this next generation of probes of exoplanet atmospheres.