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Direct Multipixel Imaging and Spectroscopy of an Exoplanet with a Solar Gravity Lens Mission

Turyshev, Slava G. and Shao, Michael and Toth, Viktor T. and Friedman, Louis D. and Alkalai, Leon and Mawet, Dimitri and Shen, Janice and Swain, Mark R. and Zhou, Hanying and Helvajian, Henry and Heinsheimer, Tom and Janson, Siegfried and Leszczynski, Zigmond and McVey, John and Garber, Darren and Davoyan, Artur and Redfield, Seth and Males, Jared R. (2020) Direct Multipixel Imaging and Spectroscopy of an Exoplanet with a Solar Gravity Lens Mission. . (Unpublished)

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We examined the solar gravitational lens (SGL) as the means to produce direct high-resolution, multipixel images of exoplanets. The properties of the SGL are remarkable: it offers maximum light amplification of ~1e11 and angular resolution of ~1e-10 arcsec. A probe with a 1-m telescope in the SGL focal region can image an exoplanet at 30 pc with 10-kilometer resolution on its surface, sufficient to observe seasonal changes, oceans, continents, surface topography. We reached and exceeded all objectives set for our study: We developed a new wave-optical approach to study the imaging of exoplanets while treating them as extended, resolved, faint sources at large but finite distances. We properly accounted for the solar corona brightness. We developed deconvolution algorithms and demonstrated the feasibility of high-quality image reconstruction under realistic conditions. We have proven that multipixel imaging and spectroscopy of exoplanets with the SGL are feasible. We have developed a new mission concept that delivers an array of optical telescopes to the SGL focal region relying on three innovations: i) a new way to enable direct exoplanet imaging, ii) use of smallsats solar sails fast transit through the solar system and beyond, iii) an open architecture to take advantage of swarm technology. This approach enables entirely new missions, providing a great leap in capabilities for NASA and the greater aerospace community. Our results are encouraging as they lead to a realistic design for a mission that will be able to make direct resolved images of exoplanets in our stellar neighborhood. It could allow exploration of exoplanets relying on the SGL capabilities decades, if not centuries, earlier than possible with other extant technologies. The architecture and mission concepts for a mission to the strong interference region of the SGL are promising and should be explored further.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Project Report)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Mawet, Dimitri0000-0002-8895-4735
Swain, Mark R.0000-0002-0919-4468
Davoyan, Artur0000-0002-4662-1158
Redfield, Seth0000-0003-3786-3486
Additional Information:We would like to express our gratitude to our many colleagues who have either collaborated with us on this report or given us their wisdom. We specifically thank Roy Nakagawa, Nathan Strange, Phil A. Willems, John L. West, Stacy Weinstein-Weiss, who provided us with very valuable comments, encouragement, support and stimulating discussions while this report was in preparation. We acknowledge fruitful collaborations with several our NIAC Fellows, especially with Stephanie Thomas, John Brophy, Philip Lubin, Robert Adams and Nickolas Solomey. Several on-going collaborations with our industry partners, non-profit and academia contributed to our work, namely with NXTRAC, Explore, L’Garde, Firefly, Morpheus Space, Zeno Power Systems, Breakthrough StarShot, Space Venture Coalition, Texas A&M University, UCLA, Cornell Tech, MIT, University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, as well as NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and others. Finally, we are especially thankful to NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) for their support for our work in the pursuit of an exciting objective – using the SGL for direct high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy of a potentially habitable exoplanet. The work described here was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. ©2020. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: The cost information contained in this document is of a budgetary and planning nature and is intended for informational purposes only. It does not constitute a commitment on the part of JPL and/or Caltech.
Group:Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200501-110449071
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:102966
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:01 May 2020 18:52
Last Modified:01 May 2020 18:52

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