37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 18 Future Missions and Instrumentation
Poster, Monday, September 5, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Lecture Room 5

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[18.24] High contrast space coronagraphy for planet discovery: the Eclipse concept and recent technology readiness validations

J. Trauger (JPL), M. Brown (Caltech), R. A. Brown (STScI), A. Burrows (U. Arizona), C. Burrows (Metajiva), M. Ealey (Xinetics), D. Fischer (SFSU), C. Ftaclas (U. Hawaii), S. Heap (GSFC), T. Hull (Tinsley), J. Kasdin (Princeton), J. Krist (JPL), M. Kuchner (GSFC), J. Lunine (U. Arizona), G. Marcy (U. C. Berkeley), R. Sahai (JPL), D. Spergel (Princeton), K. Stapelfeldt, W. Traub (JPL), B. Woodgate (GSFC)

Eclipse is a proposed NASA Discovery mission for direct imaging of planetary systems orbiting nearby stars. The mission concept is based on an actively corrected coronagraphic space telescope for high-contrast visible wavelength imaging and spectrophotometry. Eclipse imagery provides billion-to-one suppression of diffracted and scattered starlight in the field of view between 0.25 and 1.5 arcseconds from a target star, a planet-finding capability at least three orders of magnitude more sensititve than any HST instrument.

These contrast performance predictions are derived from computational models and verified by laboratory experience. We review recent laboratory validation demonstrations in a space-simulating coronagraphic imaging testbed. We summarize developments in the new enabling technologies, including apodized coronagraphic masks, precision deformable mirrors and their control systems, and wavefront sensing and correction algorithms.

A baseline three-year science mission promises fundamental new insights into the nature and evolution of diverse planetary systems associated with our Sun's nearest neighbors. Eclipse mission objectives include a survey for the presence of major planets, planet-sculpted debris disks and other observable indicators of planetary systems. The Eclipse mission offers pioneering science observations and an opportunity to validate and mature the critical technologies in support of coronagraphic concepts for the future TPF-C.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.