While LIFE is unique in its scope and ambition, other projects share some of the scientific goals or employ or develop technology that is synergistic with that relevant to LIFE.

  • METIS (the mid-infrared ELT imager and spectrograph), a first generation instrument for ESO's 39-m Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). METIS will work at mid-infrared wavelengths (3-19 micrometer) and will be operational in the mid 2020s. Exoplanet science is one of the main drivers for METIS' development, and, while METIS might be (one of) the first instrument(s) to ever image a terrestrial planet around one of the nearest stars, the total number of small planets that are within METIS' reach will be limited to a few. 
  • Hi-5, a new instrument study for ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). The main goal is to develop the relevant technology to do high-contrast (nulling) interferometry between 3-5 micrometer wavelength from the ground to study forming exoplanets, but also exozodiacal dust disks and IR-bright extragalactic sources with the highest possible angular resolution. 
  • PFI (Planet Formation Imager), an international project developing a new instrument concept for a new interferometer. The challenging goal is to deliver spatially resolved images of Hill-sphere-sized structures within the gas and dust rich disk surrounding young stars to study empirically the physical conditions and mechanisms of gas-giant planet formation. 
  • LUVOIR and HabEX are mission concepts from NASA with the goal to detect and characterize terrestrial exoplanets in reflected light. The Origin Space Telescope (OST) concept, also under study at NASA, would provide transmission and secondary eclipse measurements of small planets between 3 and 20 micron. Depending on the outcome of the decadal survey in 2020 one of the three might become NASA's next flagship mission.