Presently, dedicated instruments developments at large telescopes (SPHERE for
the VLT, GPI for Gemini) are about to discover and explore self-luminous giant
planets by direct imaging and spectroscopy. The next generation of 30m-40m
ground-based telescopes, the Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) have the
potential to dramatically enlarge the discovery space towards older giant
planets seen in reflected light and ultimately even a small number of rocky
planets. EPICS is a proposed instrument for the European ELT, dedicated to the
detection and characterization of exoplanets by direct imaging and
spectroscopy. It will exploit state-of-the-art diffraction and speckle
suppression techniques to deliver highest contrasts.
EPICS was first studied in the context of the OWL project, and a first preliminary concept produced. A new design is being considered for the E-ELT, partly funded within an European FP-7 program, and partly by ESO. Phase A will formally start in autumn 2007. INAF-OAPD has the leadership of the science group and contributes to the work on the Integral Field Spectrograph.