How do we find Earth-like planets outside our solar system? One idea is to send a giant structure that blocks starlight so that astronomers can more easily detect orbiting planets.
This artist's rendering shows the proposed starshade concept flying in sync with a space telescope. The giant sunflower-like structure would be used to acquire images of Earth-like rocky planets around nearby stars.
The proposed starshade could launch together with a telescope. Once in space, it would separate from the rocket and telescope, unfurl its petals, then move into position to block the light of stars.
To learn more about technologies in development to help take images of exoplanets, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6454.