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WFIRST’s Coronagraph

3 Oct 2019, 13:00 UTC
WFIRST’s Coronagraph
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NASA Goddard dicit:
When a new NASA space telescope opens its eyes in the mid 2020s, it will peer at the universe through some of the most sophisticated sunglasses ever designed. This multi-layered technology, the coronagraph instrument, might more rightly be called “starglasses”: a system of masks, prisms, detectors and even self-flexing mirrors built to block out the glare from distant stars — and reveal the planets in orbit around them. Normally, that glare is overwhelming, blotting out any chance of seeing orbiting planets. The star’s photons — particles of light — swamp those from the planet when they hit the telescope.
WFIRST’s coronagraph just completed a major milestone: a preliminary design review by NASA. The instrument has met all design, schedule and budget requirements, and can now proceed to the next phase, b uilding hardware for flight. The WFIRST mission’s coronagraph is meant to demonstrate the power of increasingly advanced technology. As it captures light directly from large, gaseous exoplanets, and from disks of dust and gas surrounding other stars, it will point the way to the future: single pixel “images” of rocky planets the size of Earth. Then the light can be spread into a rainbow ...

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