LASP Science Seminars
STARSHADES, A CU Technology: The Only Known Path to Spectroscopy of Exo-Earths
The search for Life in the Universe is among the few universally supported goals in the sciences. In the last 25 years it has been established, through indirect means, that planetary systems are a feature of nearly every star. But we cannot view those planets directly because of the glare of the parent star. Starshade is the only known technology that suppresses the glare without suppressing the signal from those very, very faint exoplanets. Starshades have once-again been chosen by the Astronomy Decadal Review for flight on the next major astronomical observatory.
In this talk I will review the status of the technology and just a little of the very exciting scientific potential. Starshades will allow deep images of the planetary systems of our neighboring stars, and spectroscopy of the planets found there. In particular, they will allow the first spectroscopy of Earth-like planets and the search for biomarkers on them.