California: A spacecraft that looks like a giant sunflower might one day be used to acquire images of earth-like planets around nearby stars, scientists say.
The spacecraft called `starshade` is being developed by NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
“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,” Jeremy Kasdin, a professor at New Jersey-based Princeton University, informed.
The hunt is on for planets that resemble earth in size, composition and temperature.
Rocky planets with just the right temperature for liquid water - not too hot, not too cold - could be possible abodes for life outside our solar system.
NASA`s Kepler mission has discovered hundreds of planets orbiting other stars, called exoplanets, some of which are a bit larger than the earth.
The `starshade` is designed to help take those pictures of planets by blocking out the overwhelmingly bright light of their stars, Kasdin explained.
The `starshade` is like holding your hand up to the sun to block it while taking a picture of somebody, he said.