The space mission PEGASE, proposed to the CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales = French Space Agency) in the framework of its call for scientific proposals : “formation flying missions”, is a 2-aperture interferometer, composed by 3 free flying satellites (2 siderostats and 1 beam combiner), allowing baselines from 50 to 500 m in both nulling and visibility modes. With an angular resolution of a few mas and a spectral resolution of several tens in the spectral range 2.5-5 microns, PEGASE has several goals:
- science : spectroscopy of hot jupiters (Pegasides) and brown dwarves, exploration of the inner part of protoplanetary disks
- technology : validation in real space conditions of formation flying, nulling and visibility interferometry concepts.
PEGASE has been studied at a 0-level. In this paper, we summarize the scientific program and associated technological and mission trade-off coming from this 0-level study. We also discuss how PEGASE can be considered as a TPF/DARWIN pathfinder in an international roadmap towards more complex space interferometry missions such as DARWIN/TPF.