Scientific Opportunities for a Starshade Working with a 2.4 m Telescope at L2
Aki Roberge  1@  , Sara Seager  2  , Mark Thomson  3  , Margaret Turnbull  4  , William Sparks  5  , Stuart Shaklan  3  , Marc Kuchner  1  , N. Jeremy Kasdin  6  , Shawn Domagal-Goldman  1  , Webster Cash  7  
1 : NASA Goddard Space Flight Center  (NASA GSFC)
2 : Massachusets Institute of Technology  (MIT)
3 : Jet Propulsion Laboratory [NASA]  (JPL)
4 : Global Science Institute  (GSI)
5 : Space Telescope Science Institute  (STScI)
6 : Princeton University  (Princeton)
7 : University of Colorado at Boulder  (Colorado)

A starshade paired with an existing 2.4 m telescope offers scientific opportunities for high-contrast direct exoplanet observations that are complementary to those offered by internal coronagraphs. Most excitingly, since the inner working angle is decoupled from the telescope aperture, a starshade can provide access to the habitable zones of some nearby stars even with relatively small telescopes. This capability may allow direct imaging and low-resolution spectroscopy of Earth-analog exoplanets. Here, I will summarize a potential starshade design for a 2.4 m telescope, briefly discuss the modest changes to the WFIRST mission that would be needed for it to be “starshade-ready”, and give preliminary estimates of the scientific capabilities. This possible enhancement to the WFIRST mission would provide valuable technology development for someday flying a starshade with a larger telescope aimed at characterization of large numbers of habitable exoplanets.

  • Picture
  • Other
  • Presentation
Online user: 1