Progress on optical verification for occulter-based high contrast imaging

Dan Sirbu, N. Jeremy Kasdin, Robert J. Vanderbei

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

4 Scopus citations


An external occulter is a specially-shaped spacecraft flown in formation with a telescope. It enables high-contrast imaging of the dim planetary companions of the neighboring solar system by blocking starlight before it reaches the entrance pupil. Occulters have to be designed via optimization methods that account for diffraction to most effectively block starlight. To predict occulter performance, we must verify the fidelity of the optical propagation models under scaled conditions. In this paper, we measure the contrast of a scaled occulter. The validity of the contrast calibration is determined using a baseline circular occulter. We verify contrast better than 10-10, however the measurements do not perform as well as the prediction from theoretical modelling. We attribute this difference to glint scattering off mask edges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VI
StatePublished - 2013
EventTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VI - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 26 2013Aug 29 2013

Publication series

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


OtherTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VI
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
  • High Contrast Imaging
  • Optical Verification
  • Optimization
  • Scalar Diffraction


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