AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 45. Instrumentation for Space Observations
Display, Tuesday, January 8, 2002, 9:20am-6:30pm, Monroe/Lincoln

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[45.01] Free-flying Occulters for Use with Space Telescopes

M. Kochte, A.B. Schultz, I. Jordan, F. Hamilton (CSC/STScI), F. Bruhweiler, M.A. DiSanti (CUA), R.D. Burns, K. Carpenter, J.M. Hollis, J. Leitner, R.G. Lyon, S. Starin (NASA/GSFC), M.S. Fadali, M. Rodrigue (UNR), D.L Skelton (OSC), H.M. Hart (CSC/JHU)

We summarize a free-flying occulter proposal that was submitted to NASA in response to NRA-01-OSS-04. Free-flying occulters in association with space telescopes have been proposed for nearly four decades to detect and study extrasolar planets. External occulters reduce the magnitude differences between a planet and the host star; light scatter within the telescope is reduced resulting from fewer obstructions and optical surfaces; and any instrument onboard the telescope, including spectrometers, can be used to study extrasolar planets.

We conclude with a mission concept for an optimized optical 1-m space telescope with a small external occulter. Both craft could be launched from a single launch vehicle and placed in a 1-AU fall-away orbit or at Earth-Sun L2. Jovian planets around stars within 10 parsecs could be studied, and a search for sub-Jovian planets around the nearest handful of stars could be performed. Approximately 80% of the telescope time would be available for projects not associated with the external occulter such as gravitational lensing and planetary transit surveys.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: kochte@stsci.edu

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