PLANETS Foundation Wants to Find Life Outside of the Solar System
Tom Spendlove posted on April 19, 2017 |
PLANETS Foundation is running a Kickstarter campaign for Phase 1 of their ambitious ten year telesco...

The PLANETS Foundation believes that we can find life outside of the solar system within a decade. The foundation includes engineers, professors, astrophysicists, and entrepreneurs from six different countries. Working at the beginning of an ambitious ten year plan, the team has reimagined several parts of telescope technology and already published several papers based on their initial findings. This month a small Kickstarter campaign is running to help fund the final polishing stage of the PLANETS telescope mirror.

Located in Haleakala, Maui and scheduled for completion in 2019, the PLANETS (Polarized Light from Atmospheres of Near Extra Terrestrial Systems) will be optimized to study faint environments around bright sources. These environments will include exoatmospheres of planets, atmospheres of bright exoplanets, circumstellar environments and protoplanets, and biosignatures on exoplanets.

Three core technologies on PLANETS telescope are pushing it to the forefront of a new era of space searching. Advanced polishing applies forms the glass surface without applying pressure to the surface. This should make PLANETS the thinnest aspect ratio telescope mirror in use today. The patented process of processing the glass with a water-based slurry and air pressure is codenamed HyDRa. Ultra-thin mirrors give the total telescope cost a big savings, and are processed through a proprietary furnace that heats the glass and ‘slumps’ it toward its final parabolic shape. New large diameter lenses will be manufactured through 3D printing and have the potential to create mirrors ten times thinner and lighter than current technologies. These ‘Live-MetaOptics’ mirrors can be scaled up to give the telescopes more power and a better ability to look for faint light around bright stars.

This Kickstarter campaign is looking for a fraction of the money needed for such a mega program and does more to raise awareness of the telescope and the PLANETS foundation. The amazing and ambitious plan laid out over the next decade will hopefully help us advance current telescope technology and point toward other places where life might exist.

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