The Origins Space Telescope: a NASA Decadal 2020 Mission Concept

October 25, 2018
Phillips Auditorium

The Origins Space Telescope (OST) is a low risk, high science impact mission concept that is executable in the 2030’s. OST will trace the history of our origins from the time dust and heavy elements permanently altered the cosmic landscape to present-day life. It will address all three key questions in NASA’s astrophysical roadmap: Are we alone? How did we get here? and How does the Universe work? Specifically, OST will address the questions “How common are life-bearing planets orbiting dwarf stars?”, “How do the conditions for habitability develop during the process of planet formation?” and “How do galaxies form stars, grow their central supermassive black holes, and make heavy elements over cosmic time?” To accomplish its scientific objectives, OST will operate between ~3 to ~600 microns with a JWST sized telescope. Enabled by ~4 K optics and improved detector technology, OST will far exceed previous missions’ sensitivity by up to 1000 times. The observatory has the agility to conduct large surveys and the pointing stability to support pointed observations. The instruments feature improved sensitivity and new spectroscopic capabilities compared to prior or planned missions. This study is one of four science and technology definition studies supported by NASA Headquarters to prepare for the 2020 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey.

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