Direct imaging plays a key role in the detection and characterization of exoplanets orbiting within its host star’s
habitable zone. Many innovative ideas for starlight suppression and wavefront control have been proposed and
developed over the past decade. However, several technological challenges still lie ahead to achieve the required
contrast, including controlling the observatory pointing performance, fabricating occulting masks with tight optical
tolerances, developing wavefront control algorithms, controlling stray light, advancing single photon detecting detectors,
and integrated system-level issues. This paper explores how a lenslet array and pinhole mask may be implemented to
further suppress uncorrected starlight that leaks through the occulting mask. An external occulter, or star shade, is
simulated to demonstrate this concept, although this approach can be implemented for internal coronagraphs as well.
We describe how to use simple relay optics to control the scene near the inner working angle and the level of the
suppression expected. Furthermore, if the lenslet array is the input to an integral field spectrograph, as planned for the
WFIRST mission, the spectral content of the exoplanet atmospheres can be obtained to determine if the observed planet
is habitable and ultimately, if it is inhabited.