A furled model of the first starshade built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is shown in an Astro Aerospace/Northrup Grumman facility in Santa Barbara, California in 2013. This full-scale 20-meter model was designed to show that starshade techonology could work with an approximately 2 meter telescope. The flower-like petals of the starshade are designed to diffract bright starlight away from telescopes seeking the dim light of exoplanets. The early design of the light-diffracting petals is more extreme in shape than later designs to accommodate existing technology. Starlight-blocking technology like the starshade is being developed to help image small, terrestrial planets like Earth.


Credit: NASA JPL