NIAC Award: Dual Use Exoplanet Telescope

Dual Use Exoplanet Telescope (Credit; Tom Ditto)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program
Phase I Award: Up to $125,000 for 9 Months

Dual Use Exoplanet Telescope (DUET)
Tom Ditto
3DeWitt LLC

The Dual Use Exoplanet Telescope (DUET) advances NASA’s discovery missions to find and characterize exo-planetary systems. The novel telescope design has the ability to detect exoplanets both indirectly (with radial velocity and astrometry techniques) and directly with advanced spectroscopy. DUET has an annulus gossamer membrane holographic primary objective that has four times the collection area and twice the diameter of the largest planned ground telescopes, yet its mass and stowage allow it to be delivered on a single lifter.

Unlike competing exoplanet finders, DUET does not require a coronagraph or star shade. It subtracts the parent star by taking advantage of the differences between the wavelengths of the star and its planets as a function of the distances between them. This is made possible by using a dual dispersion technique first studied by Newton in his famous prism experiment. In this telescope, wavelength is proportional to the distance of an exoplanet from its parent star.

The mission will result in a census of planets on half of all visible stars. In the “neighborhood” of earth, DUET will make spectrographic characterizations. DUET will deliver a positive signal for any water bearing planets using a Rayleigh scattering method in the near UV that in our solar system is unique to earth. Earth may be a “pale blue dot,” but in the near-UV it is luminescent. Such a signal for an exoplanet on an A, F or G class main sequence star would point to Earth 2.0.

2019 Phase 1 and Phase II Selections
2011-2019 Consolidated List

NIAC Phase II Award: High Étendue Multiple Object Spectrographic Telescope

High Étendue Multiple Object Spectrographic Telescope (Credit: Tom Ditto)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program
Phase II Award: Up to $500,000 for 2 Years

The High Étendue Multiple Object Spectrographic Telescope (THE MOST)
Tom Ditto
3DeWitt LLC

The largest animal ever to exist, the blue whale, has its enormous size because it floats in water. In outer space at zero-G there should be relaxed restrictions on the aperture and collection area of telescopes. Unfortunately, NASA has struggled for decades to launch a space telescope that enjoys even a fraction of the size of large ground telescopes.

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