NASA has unveiled a new space mission called the Habitable Exoplanet Observatory (HabEx), hoping to use a new space telescope to find Earth-like habitable exoplanets. The mission will use a larger space telescope than the Hubble telescope and will use so-called origami technology to block the light of the target star using a star device.
Blocking the light will allow the telescope to search around stars for potentially habitable exoplanets. The HabEx mission is aimed at finding life-sustaining planets similar to Earth. Scientists say that although we have identified several planets outside the solar system, none of them have been conclusively proven to have the elements necessary for habitability.
The space telescope’s mirror sits 4 meters wide during the HabEx mission, and the Hubble Space Telescope’s mirror is only 2.4 meters wide. The shadow is a key part of the mission because exoplanets are usually overwhelmed by bright light from nearby stars.
The Star shadow is a 52m flower-shaped disk that folds into a tight spiral like origami into space. Once in orbit, the star will expand and fly nearly 77,000 kilometers from the telescope to block light from the star. The mission will also include additional instruments, including a coronal instrument, to map the characteristics of exoplanets and record their images.
HabEx is one of four mission concepts proposed by NASA. If you choose HabEx, it will start in the 2030s and spend $7 billion over 10 years.