Starshade would take formation flying to extremes

This artist’s concept shows the geometry of a space telescope aligned with a starshade, a technology used to block starlight in order to reveal the presence of planets orbiting that star. “If the starshade were scaled down to the size of a drink coaster, the telescope would be the size of a pencil eraser and they’d be separated by about 60 miles [100 kilometers]. VIDEO This artist’s concept of a starshade shows how the technology can block starlight and reveal the presence of planets. “We can sense a change in the position of the starshade down to an inch, even over these huge distances,” Bottom said. In fact, the work by Bottom and Flinois demonstrates that engineers could reasonably meet the alignment demands of an even larger starshade (in conjunction with a larger telescope), positioned up to 46,000 miles (74,000 kilometers) from the telescope.

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