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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 18, Iss. 2 — Jan. 18, 2010
  • pp: 523–543

Designing asymmetric and branched petals for planet-finding occulters

Eric Cady, N.Jeremy Kasdin, and Stuart Shaklan  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 18, Issue 2, pp. 523-543 (2010)

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One of the proposed methods for finding small extrasolar planets is through use of an occulter, a spacecraft which flies in formation with a space-based telescope to block the light from a star, while leaving nearby planets unaffected. This is accomplished by placing the occulter far enough from the telescope to give it a small angular size, and by carefully choosing the shape to strongly suppress the starlight at the telescope aperture. For most designs, this shape takes the form of a number of bilaterally-symmetric structures called petals, arrayed about a circular central disk. In this paper, we show that the necessary number of petals may be reduced by the introduction of an asymmetry in the petal shape, and describe a a general procedure for producing such a shape by optimization for any occulter with petals. In addition, we show that permitting openings within each petal allows a number of additional modifications to be made without affecting the suppression.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(050.1940) Diffraction and gratings : Diffraction
(050.1970) Diffraction and gratings : Diffractive optics
(350.6090) Other areas of optics : Space optics
(120.6085) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Space instrumentation

ToC Category:
Diffraction and Gratings

Original Manuscript: October 1, 2009
Revised Manuscript: November 9, 2009
Manuscript Accepted: November 9, 2009
Published: January 4, 2010

Eric Cady, N. J. Kasdin, and Stuart Shaklan, "Designing asymmetric and branched petals for planet-finding occulters," Opt. Express 18, 523-543 (2010)

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