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LBTI mission graphic

Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer

Phase: Development

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Program(s):Exoplanet Exploration

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The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is part of NASA's overall effort to find planets and ultimately life beyond our solar system. It combines the light from the twin telescope mirrors to make high resolution measurements of stars and galaxies and measures the emission from dust orbiting nearby stars.

The LBTI will study the formation of solar systems and will be capable of directly detecting giant planets outside our solar system. Because of its unique geometry and relatively direct optical path, the LBTI will offer science capabilities that are different from other interferometers. Because it combines the beams from separate telescope mirrors according to a special optical concept (Fizeau combination) it will provide high-resolution images of faint objects over a wide field-of-view.

Nulling techniques, taking advantage of the deformable secondary telescope mirror to correct for atmospheric turbulence, enables the LBTI to study emissions from faint dust clouds around other stars. These dust clouds reflect light and give off heat, and so interfere with the search for planets. By helping to characterize these emissions to very deep limits, the LBTI provides critically needed data for the design of future missions that will study and characterize planets orbiting nearby stars.

Last updated: June 7, 2012