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Suborbital Demonstrations of Starshades

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Friday, July 17, 2015 - 12:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • CASA Conference Room C324

Speaker Name(s): 

Anthony Harness

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

University of Colorado
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • Astrophysics Lunch Seminar

Event Details & Abstract: 

One of the most exciting prospects for exoplanet science is the ability to directly image and obtain spectra of an Earth-like planet around another star. Spectra are necessary to characterize the planet, determine habitability, search for life, and find a true Earth-twin. One proposed technology that will enable this work is the starshade external occulter. Our team is currently conducting a suite of suborbital tests and demonstrations to develop starshade technology in preparation for a future Earth-finding mission with starshades. Due to the unique architecture of the starshade, testing at a system-level requires unique and unconventional testing platforms such as Zeppelins, dry lake beds, mountaintops, and vertical takeoff vertical landing rockets. I will present results from completed starshade tests and provide an update on ongoing work to demonstrate starshades with astronomical observations. These tests are aimed to demonstrate the high-contrast capability of starshades, help develop the tools needed to plan for future missions, and validate them as a viable astronomical instrument.