View Full Version : Discussion: Biggest Pinhole Camera Ever

2004-Oct-01, 06:03 PM
SUMMARY: A common science experiment for young kids is to build a pinhole camera. Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder think NASA should build a gigantic one in space and use it to find planets orbiting other stars. The "New Worlds Imager" would be a football field-sized opaque light shade with a small opening right at the centre to let light through. A detector spacecraft would sit thousands of kilometres back and collect the light that comes through the opening. The shade would block the light from the star and let astronomers detect planets orbiting it. The proposal was one of 12 advanced concepts recently selected for further study by NASA.

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John L
2004-Oct-01, 06:34 PM
Sounds like a good idea. I think if we use origami techniques to pack the screen for launch and then unfold it in space it could be done rather cheaply. The material should have to be any kind of extravagantly expensive material - just able to survive the extreme temperature changes in space - and the telescope doesn't sound like it has to be anything unusual either.

How long would it take to build and launch this?

2004-Oct-01, 08:20 PM
I think the hardest thing about this mission is that it would be very difficult to change targets. This is a mission to examine ONE nearby star system at a time. Aside from that, this is simplicity at its best.

2004-Oct-02, 12:36 AM
I think this is a very novel approach. The hardest part will be getting the screen to unfold. Once it's unfolded though, I would think it would be fairly easy to move from target to target.

2004-Oct-02, 03:48 AM
Hmmm...Football field sized? Sounds like the screen could double as a solar sail test, and also use the solar photonic effect to change positions to another target.

2004-Oct-02, 12:56 PM
Originally posted by Tom2Mars@Oct 2 2004, 03:48 AM
Sounds like the screen could double as a solar sail test
I was thinking that this thing would need to stay edge-on to the sun, or else the solar wind and photon pressure would blow it out of position faster than would make it useful as an astronomy tool.