Astrophysics (Index)About

New Worlds Mission

(plan for space occulter to facilitate the view of exoplanets)

The New Worlds Mission is a plan to launch an occulter (coronagraph) known as a starshade, into space in 2020. The occulter would orbit 80,000 miles in front of a space telescope, blocking starlight from a target star so the telescope can directly image the star's extra-solar planets. The occulter targets 400-1000 nm wavelengths.

The name New Worlds Mission was adopted for a study outlining a possible occulter mission, the study completed in 2010. The study remains a source of ideas as has the subsequent plan/study, Exo-S.

The plan considered use with some future space telescope, but mainly considered using it with the future JWST, placing it at L2. I'm not sure how stable a spacecraft can be positioned at/near L2 80,000 miles from another L2-orbiting spacecraft, but presume the plan is based upon real capabilities. Another challenging factor is that differing observation targets require the starshade (and/or the telescope) to move to a new location relative to the other, requiring fuel and perhaps considerable operation.

Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
Lagrangian point