Starshade Will Help Space Telescope To Search For Exoplanets
A starshade would accompany a future space telescope and block the light of an individual star to enhance the study of exoplanets orbiting that star.
A future starshade mission would involve two spacecraft. One would be a space telescope on the hunt for planets orbiting stars outside of our solar system. The other spacecraft would fly some 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) in front of it, carrying a large, flat shade. The shade would unfurl like a blooming flower ó complete with "petals" ó and block the light from a star, allowing the telescope to get a clearer glimpse of any orbiting planets. But it would work only if the two spacecraft were to stay, despite the great distance between them, aligned to within 3 feet (1 meter) of each other. Any more, and starlight would leak around the starshade into the telescope's view and overwhelm faint exoplanets.
In his thrilling 1936 story Cosmic Quest, Golden Age phenom Edmond Hamilton created an elaborate device to search for habitable planets:
And each mechanical eye, when it found planetary systems in its field, automatically shifted upon them a higher powered telespectroscope which recorded on permanent film the size, mean temperature and atmospheric conditions of these worlds.
(The telespectroscope recorded the conditions of these other worlds)