Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

3/26/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A device known as a starshade will allow space telescopes to image planets around distant stars.

Scientists from NASA are working on a clever device that will allow them to take direct pictures of planets around distant stars. Known as a "starshade" the device, which is akin to a giant sunflower in design, will block the light from stars and allow space telescopes to see the planets around them.

The starshade would block the light of distant stars for sensitive space telescopes.

The starshade would block the light of distant stars for sensitive space telescopes.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/26/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: starshade, stars, planets, telescope, science, life, questions, sunflower


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Stars are bright objects and many of them are even brighter than our own sun, which is itself a star. Planets however, produce no light of their own, they simply reflect the light of their parent star. Because of this, planets are always outshone by their stars.

We have directly imaged planets around other stars before, but the occasions are rare and the planets are both massive and distant from their parent.

St. Dominic, patron saint of astronomers.

In order to directly image smaller planets orbiting in the potential "habitable zone" around stars, we need to find a way to block all of the starlight from the star, while being able to see the planets in orbit around it. The idea is similar to the way we might cover the sun with our hand to better see a distant object on a sunny day.

Enter the starshade. Shaped like a sunflower, the shade would ride to space with a telescope. It would deploy automatically and move with the telescope, allowing its use for an extended period of time. During its operation, it will be moved by thrusters to precisely block the light of the star, but not the space around it. That would allow planets to be directly imaged by the telescope.

A prototype of the starshade is already under development.

A prototype of the starshade is already under development.


The planets still would not show much detail, since they would be extremely distant, but scientists would get a good measurement of their light. That light is important because it can be studied to detect biomarker chemicals in the atmosphere. Those are chemical compounds in the atmosphere that are signs of life on an alien planet.

Simply discovering these biomarkers will give scientists a very good idea of whether or not life exists on other planets. It might not resolve the question entirely, if there is any chance the chemicals could exist naturally, however it would give scientists a short list of candidate worlds for future study.

NASA will launch the starshade on a future mission if testing goes well.

NASA will launch the starshade on a future mission if testing goes well.


The starshade is currently in prototype development and the full-scale starshade will have to be launched on a future, as yet, undetermined mission, assuming engineers can successfully work out the technical details.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2016
Universal:
Small Farmers: That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.
Evangelization: African Christians: That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.



Comments


More Technology

Chinese invent robots that can beat humans at soccer Watch

Image of Chinese robots are now beating humans at their own game.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Earlier this year, a robot beat a master player at the ancient game of Go. Now, robots are beating humans at soccer. Armies of engineers are working around the world to develop artificial intelligence and robots that can do what humans do, only better. They're making ... continue reading


Top Secret Area 51 on fire - film footage captures mysterious mushroom cloud, armed security at base Watch

Image of What just happened in the secretive Area 51?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

UFO watchers have spotted a mysterious mushroom-shaped cloud over Area 51. The cause of the cloud remains unknown, but it is evidently connected to a fire at the secret military base. Viewers were unable to obtain direct footage of whatever caused the inferno, due to ... continue reading


AI shoots to kill: Will robots rule the world? Watch

Image of Researchers believe Artificial Intelligence can lead to the extinction of all humanity (Terminator 2).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

After Microsoft's failure with AI teen "Tay," it should come as no surprise that more and more researchers are agreeing artificial intelligence requires a delicate balance between helpful tech and murderous exterminators. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According ... continue reading


New machine about to replace ALL fast food workers -- and why that's awesome! Watch

Image of Several companies are developing machines and robots that can replace legions of low-wage, low-skilled workers. The cost savings would be tremendous. It would also be of benefit to the workers themselves, a least in the long run.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Fast food workers, say goodbye to that grimy job with surly guests and overbearing managers. Your fight for $15 is over. No, you didn't win, someone has invented a machine that makes hamburgers better and faster than you do. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - ... continue reading


Extraordinary life-changing surgery allows paralyzed man to regain body control Watch

Image of Chip implant helps paralyzed man move arm and even play guitar (Screenshot/Ohio State University).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Ian Burkhart underwent experimental brain surgery to help scientists pioneer technology aimed at reanimating paralyzed limbs - and it worked! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Six years ago, Burkhart severed his spine when he went for a swim and was slammed into a ... continue reading


Would you eat a pizza delivered by a robot? Customers in New Zealand already can... How will this affect you? Watch

Image of Within a few years, your pizza may be delivered by robot.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Robots will soon begin to deliver your mail, pizza, and other parcels within the next few years. Plans are being developed around the globe to test, then roll out automated delivery systems for everything from packages, to mail to pizza. The rising demand for delivered ... continue reading


Singapore tech shames Google - Here's why we're all looking forward to it! Watch

Image of Singapore is home to the most advanced autonomous car (asiawebdirect).

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

After securing $3.6 million to fund an up-and-coming piece of technology, an MIT-spinoff company based in Singapore shames Google's driverless car. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With news of self-driving taxis popping up across the internet, it should come as no ... continue reading


Cannibalism: What lengths would YOU take to survive? Watch

Image of The fight has moved from the physical to the digital (cstins12/YouTube).

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Time is money and money is everything. It pays for your home, food, technology, education, transit and basic needs - but what happens when your time no longer brings in the money? What would you resort to if you knew you would starve? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


How to see the green Comet 252P Watch

Image of Observers will see comet 252P as a faint green fuzzy patch. Naked eye viewing from a suburban or urban area may be virtually impossible. Observers will want a dark sky location, binoculars are recommended. Stargazers will need to look south about 90 minutes before dawn.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A pair of green comets have zipped frightfully close to Earth, and it may be possible to catch a glimpse of one from your backyard. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Astronomers were caught by surprise when they detected a new comet on January 22 using the ... continue reading


Astronomers discover galaxies so bright, they break the scale used to measure them Watch

Image of Astronomers have discovered galaxies that are three times brighter than they should be.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Astronomers have discovered the brightest galaxies yet, shinning so brightly, they do not even fall on a scale they use to measure luminosity. The discovery could help refine their understanding of the nature of the early universe and how galaxies formed. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


All Technology News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 16:1-10
1 From there he went to Derbe, and then on to Lystra, where there was a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:1-2, 3, 5
1 [Psalm For thanksgiving] Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,2 ... Read More

Gospel, John 15:18-21
18 If the world hates you, you must realise that it hated me before it ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 30th, 2016 Image

St. Pius V, Pope
April 30: Pope from 1566-1572 and one of the foremost ... Read More