We have sunglasses to protect our eyes from the sun, but what if we told you that the stars can be bad for you in a similar way when you’re looking into space?
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Or what is actually referred to as a coronagraph.
NASA’s shiny new tool might let us see more worlds, in more detail, than ever before.
The incredibly sophisticated pair of starglasses are an additional instrument that will travel with NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), and the WFIRST coronagraph allows us to see beyond the bright glare of stars in a really clever way.
Some simpler coronagraphs just use a dark, opaque piece of glass to block out the bright light coming directly from the star—kinda like your sunglasses do.
But WFIRST’s starglasses consist of a few complex light-blocking steps, including a pair of “deformable mirrors,” or mirrors that are flexible and can change shape.
When the coronagraph reacts to tiny errors that might crop up as the telescope operates, these mirrors can be deformed by hundreds of tiny actuators that manipulate them into different shapes and configurations to filter out the light from star—this manipulation of the mirrors is so precise they can fix errors smaller than the width of a strand of DNA.
This level of precision allows us to see the finer details of the planets we’re looking at.
Find out more about WFIRST, the starglasses, the 5-year (at least) journey in space, and what these innovations could mean for the future of coronagraph technologies on this episode of Elements.
#NASA #Stars #Universe #Space #Science #Seeker #Elements
WFIRST Space Telescope Fitted for 'Starglasses'
"When a new NASA space telescope opens its eyes in the mid-2020s, it will peer at the universe through some of the most sophisticated sunglasses ever designed."
"Scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will function as Hubble’s wide-eyed cousin. "
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