Technology demonstration of starshade manufacturing for NASA's Exoplanet Mission Program

N. J. Kasdin, D. Lisman, S. Shaklan, M. Thomson, E. Cady, S. Martin, L. Marchen, R. J. Vanderbei, B. MacIntosh, R. E. Rudd, D. Savransky, J. Mikula, D. Lynch

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

14 Scopus citations


It is likely that the coming decade will see the development of a large visible light telescope with enabling technology for imaging exosolar Earthlike planets in the habitable zone of nearby stars. One such technol-ogy utilizes an external occulter, a satellite flying far from the telescope and employing a large screen, or starshade, to suppress the incoming starlight sufficiently for detecting and characterizing exoplanets. This trades the added complexity of building the precisely shaped starshade and flying it in formation against simplifications in the telescope since extremely precise wavefront control is no longer necessary. In this pa- per we present the results of our project to design, manufacture, and measure a prototype occulter petal as part of NASA's first Technology Development for Exoplanet Missions program. We describe the mechani- cal design of the starshade and petal, the precision manufacturing tolerances, and the metrology approach. We demonstrate that the prototype petal meets the requirements and is consistent with a full-size occulter achieving better than 10-10 contrast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2012
Subtitle of host publicationOptical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
StatePublished - 2012
EventSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2012: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: Jul 1 2012Jul 6 2012

Publication series

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


OtherSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2012: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave

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
  • Occulters
  • Starshades
  • TDEM


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