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NASA

+ - Project 1640: A telescope that sees exo-planets directly->

Submitted by wisebabo
wisebabo (638845) writes "A telescope has been created that basically very very precisely blocks out the light of a star so that the reflected light of any planets orbiting it can be imaged. As the article states, this is like looking for a firefly next to a searchlight from a thousand miles away. Once the planet's light is isolated it can be examined to see, for example, to see if the air is breathable (has oxygen, an indicator of Life).

Considering that until recently the plan was to spend a few decades and more than a few billion dollars trying to develop and successfully launch the Terrestrial Planet Finder into deep space, I think this is GOOD NEWS.

Here's how it works:
The core of this technical advance is the coordinated operation of: the world's most advanced adaptive optics system, built at Caltech and JPL, which can manipulate light by applying more than 7 million active mirror deformations per second with a precision level better than 1 nanometerâ€"about 100 times smaller than a typical bacterium; a coronagraph, built at the Museum, which optically dims the star but not other celestial objects in the field of view; a spectrograph built by a team from the Museum and Cambridge University that records the images of other solar systems in a rainbow of colors simultaneously; and a specialized wavefront sensor built by a team at JPL that is imbedded in the coronagraph and senses imperfections in the light path at a precision of a nanometer

Anyway, two questions:
1) So when will we know if Pandora exists?
2) Why wasn't this named "Project 1492"?"

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Project 1640: A telescope that sees exo-planets directly

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