External occulters for direct observation of exoplanets: An overview

W. Cash, E. Schindhelm, J. Arenberg, A. Lo, R. Polidan, J. Kasdin, R. Vanderbei, S. Kilston, C. Noecker

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

23 Scopus citations


Perhaps the most compelling piece of science and exploration now under discussion for future space missions is the direct study of planets circling other stars. Indirect means have established planets as common in the universe but have given us a limited view of their actual characteristics. Direct observation holds the potential to map entire planetary systems, view newly forming planets, find Earth-like planets and perform photometry to search for major surface features. Direct observations will also enable spectroscopy of exoplanets and the search for evidence of simple life in the universe. Recent advances in the design of external occulters - starshades that block the light from the star while passing exoplanet light - have lowered their cost and improved their performance to the point where we can now envision a New Worlds Observer that is both buildable and affordable with today's technology. We will summarize recent studies of such missions and show they provide a very attractive alternative near term mission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes
Subtitle of host publicationInnovative Technologies and Concepts III
StatePublished - 2007
EventUV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes: Innovative Technologies and Concepts III - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 26 2007Aug 29 2007

Publication series

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


OtherUV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes: Innovative Technologies and Concepts III
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


  • Astrobiology
  • Coronography
  • Exoplanets


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