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Space Sunflower Could Help Photograph Alien Planets

And let us work out whether they’re habitable or not.

1. This giant shade is designed to block the light of a star so that astronomers can take pictures of its planet.

NASA / JPL / Via jpl.nasa.gov

It works a bit like holding your hand up to block the sun so you can see on a really bright day.

2. By blocking out light from the star, a telescope would be able to see the planets that orbit it.

NASA / JPL / Via jpl.nasa.gov

Directly imaging exoplanets, rather than just inferring their existence through other means, would give us a much better insight into what the planets are like and, crucially, whether they could be habitable or not.

3. It would launch curled up before unfurling its petals and moving into position.

NASA / JPL / Via jpl.nasa.gov

It’s just a prototype at the moment, but according to Nasa could launch with a telescope in the future.

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