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Proceedings Paper

New Worlds Airship
Author(s): Anthony Harness; Webster Cash; Ann Shipley; Tiffany Glassman; Steve Warwick
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Paper Abstract

We review the progress on the New Worlds Airship project, which has the eventual goal of suborbitally mapping the Alpha Centauri planetary system into the Habitable Zone. This project consists of a telescope viewing a star that is occulted by a starshade suspended from an airship. The starshade suppresses the starlight such that fainter planetary objects near the star are revealed. A visual sensor is used to determine the position of the starshade and keep the telescope within the starshade’s shadow. In the first attempt to demonstrate starshades through astronomical observations, we have built a precision line of sight position indicator and flew it on a Zeppelin in October (2012). Since the airship provider went out of business we have been redesigning the project to use Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing rockets instead. These Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles will serve as a starshade platform and test bed for further development of the visual sensor. We have completed ground tests of starshades on dry lakebeds and have shown excellent contrast. We are now attempting to use starshades on hilltops to occult stars and perform high contrast imaging of outer planetary systems such as the debris disk around Fomalhaut.

Paper Details

Date Published: 26 September 2013
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 8864, Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VI, 886407 (26 September 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2024450
Show Author Affiliations
Anthony Harness, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder (United States)
Webster Cash, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder (United States)
Ann Shipley, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder (United States)
Tiffany Glassman, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (United States)
Steve Warwick, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8864:
Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VI
Stuart Shaklan, Editor(s)

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