Unveiling Exoplanets

Author’s Note – This story voices the James Webb Space Telescope as it struggles to fulfill its mission in space. Enjoy! 

It is a pity, I think, to come all the way up here in space only to be blinded by the damn star’s light.

From struggling to survive through the violent launch to orbiting myself in position to view the star and its tiny kingdom of planets, it has been a strenuous journey. I am on the mission to look for planets up here that are similar to Earth. Scientists back home figured there are twice as many exoplanets as there are stars in the universe. Since they are stuck on Earth, I was created and sent into space for a closer look. I am programmed to capture pictures of such planets and send them home for them to determine if any of these rocky chunks are capable of life. If, I get to the part of the program where I take pictures. You see, the star is almost a million times brighter than its planets and is all but hiding them under its glare. No wonder earthlings could not view them clearly. But then, earthlings must also have known that I am not capable of distinguishing the planets from star’s brightness. Why then, I wonder, am I staring into intense amounts of starlight?

That’s when I see it.

A few miles in front of me, a device I am yet to recognize as a starshade is slowly uncurling itself, spreading its tens of meters of petal-shaped material. Intrigued, I watch as it simply places in between me and the star, unburdening all my troubles. Much to the star’s fury at being fooled, its light is blocked by the starshade, casting a comforting shadow in my direction. The shade’s intricate design pushes away the diffracted light which would otherwise make its way towards me.

                              NASA/JPL/Caltech. Nasa Reveals Spring Starshade Animation. nasa.gov Web. 17 Oct. 2018.

Comforted, excited and determined, I begin clicking pictures of the planets that come into view one after the another.

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