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Proceedings Paper

Measurements of high-contrast starshade performance in the field
Author(s): Daniel Smith; Steven Warwick; Tiffany M. Glassman; Megan C. Novicki; Michael C. Richards; Anthony Harness; Keith D. Patterson
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Paper Abstract

The external starshade is a method for the direct detection and spectral characterization of terrestrial planets around other stars, a key goal identified in ASTRO2010. In an effort to validate the starlight-suppression performance of the starshade, we have measured contrast better than 1×10-9 using 60 cm starshades at points just beyond the starshade tips. These measurements were made over a 50% spectral bandpass, using an incoherent light source (a white LED), and in challenging outdoor test environments. Our experimental setup is designed to provide starshade to telescope separation and telescope aperture size that are scaled as closely as possible to the flight system. The measurements confirm not only the overall starlight-suppression capability of the starshade concept but also the robustness of the setup to optical disturbances such as atmospheric effects at the test site. The spectral coverage is limited only by the optics and detectors in our test setup, not by the starshade itself. Here we describe our latest results as well as detailed comparisons of the measured results to model predictions. Plans and status of the next phase of ground testing are also discussed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 July 2016
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 9904, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 99043K (29 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2232841
Show Author Affiliations
Daniel Smith, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (United States)
Steven Warwick, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (United States)
Tiffany M. Glassman, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (United States)
Megan C. Novicki, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (United States)
Michael C. Richards, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (United States)
Anthony Harness, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder (United States)
Keith D. Patterson, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9904:
Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
Howard A. MacEwen; Giovanni G. Fazio; Makenzie Lystrup; Natalie Batalha; Nicholas Siegler; Edward C. Tong, Editor(s)

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