Advancing technology for starlight suppression via an external occulter

N. J. Kasdin, D. N. Spergel, R. J. Vanderbei, D. Lisman, S. Shaklan, M. Thomson, P. Walkemeyer, V. Bach, E. Oakes, E. Cady, S. Martin, L. Marchen, B. Macintosh, R. E. Rudd, J. Mikula, D. Lynch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


External occulters provide the starlight suppression needed for detecting and characterizing exoplanets with a much simpler telescope and instrument than is required for the equivalent performing coronagraph. In this paper we describe progress on our Technology Development for Exoplanet Missions project to design, manufacture, and measure a prototype occulter petal. We focus on the key requirement of manufacturing a precision petal while controlling its shape within precise tolerances. The required tolerances are established by modeling the effect that various mechanical and thermal errors have on scatter in the telescope image plane and by suballocating the allowable contrast degradation between these error sources. We discuss the deployable starshade design, representative error budget, thermal analysis, and prototype manufacturing. We also present our metrology system and methodology for verifying that the petal shape meets the contrast requirement. Finally, we summarize the progress to date building the prototype petal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets V
StatePublished - 2011
EventTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets V - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 23 2011Aug 24 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets V
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • External occulters
  • exoplanets
  • high-contrast imaging
  • occulters
  • starshades


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