Magnifying Light by a 100 Billion Times with the Solar Gravitational Lens for Direct Imaging of an Exoplanet

Special Presentation: August 14, 2018 at 7 pm at USSRC Education Training Facility
Dr. Slava G. Turyshev, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Nature has presented us with a very powerful "instrument" that we have yet to explore and learn to use. This instrument is the Solar Gravitational Lens, which results from the ability of the gravitational field of the Sun to focus light from faint, distant targets. In the near future, a modest telescope with a solar coronagraph could operate on the focal line of the SGL and, by using the enormous magnifying power of the Lens, could provide high-resolution images and spectroscopy of a habitable exoplanet.

We will discuss the imaging properties of the Solar Gravitational Lens, when the image of an exo-Earth occupies many pixels in the region near the focal line. We will discuss a mission to the SGL focal region that could provide us with direct, multi-pixel, high-resolution images and spectroscopy of a potentially habitable Earth-like exoplanet. Based on our initial studies, we find that such a mission could produce (1,000×1,000) pixels images of “Earth 2.0” at distances up to 100 light years with spatial resolution of ~10 km on its surface, enough to see its surface features. We address some aspects of mission design and spacecraft requirements, as well as capabilities needed to fly this mission in the next two decades.

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About Slava G. Turyshev

Dr. Turyshev is a physicist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, whose areas of research include research in gravitational and fundamental physics, astronomy, astrophysics and planetary science. He is an expert in spacecraft navigation, solar system dynamics, satellite and lunar laser ranging and is involved in technology efforts spanning detectors, instruments, and data analysis.

Dr. Turyshev has made a number of significant contributions, some of them are: i) successful resolution of the Pioneer anomaly; ii) development of new methods to improve performance of long-baseline optical interferometers; iii) development of several new missions and experiments in gravitational physics that resulted in major improvements in the tests of general relativity; iv) developed new instruments and methods for lunar and interplanetary laser ranging; v) developed a wave-theoretical treatment of the solar gravitational lens (SGL) that helped to define a new mission concept of direct imaging of an exoplanet from the focal area of the SGL.

Dr. Turyshev is the Principal Investigator of the 2018 Phase II NIAC study of the mission for direct multipixel imaging and spectroscopy of an exoplanet with a mission to the SGL. He was a co-lead of the 2018 KISS study on the technology requirements to operate at and utilize the SGL for exoplanet imaging. Dr. Turyshev has published over 175 research papers, 2 books. Since 2012 he is an Adjunct Professor at the UCLA’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. In 2016 Dr. Turyshev was elected a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics.

USSRC Education Training Facility

U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Education Training Facility (ETF) is located approximate at 5 Tranquility Base [Google Map] on the campus of U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC). Sometime the online maps will take you to the Marriott, which share the same address. It is the brown building just after the turn to the Marriott when you are approaching USSRC. It has both the USSRC and NASA logo on the main entrance. On Google Map it is listed as "Marshall Institute Education Training Facility. HAL5's meeting takes place in the main auditorium on the first floor. Toward the back of the building when you come in. There will be signage pointing you to the auditorium.

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