Jagmit Sandhu/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Astro2010, the Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics, recommended that NASA support technology development in the 2010-2020 decade for a future space mission designed to image Earth like extra-solar planets. Coronagraphs and external occulters are the key techniques that can meet this challenge. One of the promising coronagraph architectures is Visible Nulling Coronagraphy. Our proposal aims to demonstrate the potential of a Visible Nulling Coronagraph (VNC) to suppress starlight with a contrast of 5x10-11. This will be accomplished through a series of experiments using a VNC in an existing ExEP facility at JPL – the APEP testbed. We will demonstrate a progression of increasing contrast levels using laser and white light with the existing testbed setup. Concurrently we will design and build a wavefront sensor to achieve higher SNR wavefront control and enable post-detection speckle subtraction that will ultimately demonstrate the target contrast of 5x10-11.
Strategic Astrophysics Technology