Experimental study of starshade at flight Fresnel numbers in the laboratory

Yunjong Kim, Dan Sirbu, Michael Galvin, N. Jeremy Kasdin, Robert J. Vanderbei

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

11 Scopus citations


A starshade or external occulter is a spacecraft flown along the line-of-sight of a space telescope to suppress starlight and enable high-contrast direct imaging of exoplanets. Because of its large size and scale it is impossible to fully test a starshade system on the ground before launch. Therefore, laboratory verification of starshade designs is necessary to validate the optical models used to design and predict starshade performance. At Princeton, we have designed and built a testbed that allows verification of scaled starshade designs whose suppressed shadow is mathematically identical to that of a comparable space starshade. The starshade testbed uses 77.2 m optical propagation distance to realize the flight-appropriate Fresnel numbers of 14.5. Here we present the integration status of the testbed and simulations predicting the ultimate contrast performance. We will also present our results of wavefront error measurement and its implementation of suppression and contrast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016
Subtitle of host publicationOptical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
EditorsHoward A. MacEwen, Makenzie Lystrup, Giovanni G. Fazio
ISBN (Electronic)9781510601871
StatePublished - 2016
EventSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jul 1 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Exoplanets
  • External occulters
  • High contrast imaging
  • Laboratory scaling
  • Starshade


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