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The next step in the exoplanet revolution may be an in-space "starshade" that lets alien worlds step out of a blinding glare.

Researchers are testing designs for a starshade, which would fly in formation with a future space-based telescope. The starshade, also known as an "external occulter," would block the light from a star while allowing the scope to spot emissions from much dimmer orbiting planets.

Scientists are conducting desert tests of the technology on Earth. They're using the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona to model a starshade's ability to help future instruments find and characterize rocky, Earth-like alien worlds. [10 Exoplanets That Could Host Alien Life]

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