PIA20906: First Starshade Prototype at JPL
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The first prototype starshade developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shown in technology partner Astro Aerospace/Northrup Grumman's facility in Santa Barbara, California, in 2013. As shown by this 66 foot (20-meter) model, starshades can come in many shapes and sizes. This design shows petals that are more extreme in shape which properly diffracts starlight for smaller telescopes. Each petal is covered in a high-performance plastic film that resembles gold foil. On a starshade ready for launch, the thermal gold foil will only cover the side of the petals facing away from the telescope, with black on the other, so as not to reflect other light sources such as the Earth into its camera.

Starlight-blocking technologies such as the starshade are being developed to help image exoplanets, with a focus on Earth-sized, habitable worlds. To learn more about these technologies, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6454.

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