Starlight-Suppression Technologies for NASA’s Exoplanet Missions
Peter R. Lawson
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech
The central theme of NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program is the search for habitable worlds and life elsewhere in the Universe. The focus of technology planning within the Program has been to demonstrate techniques of starlight suppression that would enable the detection of biosignatures in the spectra of Earth-like planets. Numerous different approaches have been developed including coronagraphic hybrid-Lyot and vector-vortex masks, phase-induced amplitude apodization, precision starshades, as well as interferometric nulling techniques. Starlight suppression by a factor of 10 billion is required at optical wavelengths and 10 million at mid-infrared wavelengths. This talk will provide an overview of these approaches, summarize the progress to date, and discuss the prospects for future NASA missions.