The ESA said its development program, called StarTiger -- Space Technology Advancements by Resourceful, Targeted and Innovative Groups of Experts and Researchers -- brings together a small group of highly motivated researchers, grants them full access to laboratory and production facilities, removes all administrative distractions, and lets them work intensively for four to six months.
The crash effort is to design an instrument to operate between a pair of satellites flying in formation. One will cast a precisely-controlled shadow across the other to produce a perpetual solar eclipse, revealing parts of the sun's corona usually hidden in sunlight.
"StarTiger is an initiative within the (ESA's) Basic Technology Research Program aimed at facilitating breakthrough innovation," said Peter de Maagt, the project's manager. "It is innovative, not just in terms of technology, but also by changing the way research and development is done."
Officials said the program should pave the way for the actual flight of a two-spacecraft coronagraph on ESA's next-decade Proba-3 mission.