The Origins Space Telescope

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 3:30pm PDT
Margaret Meixner
Event Type: 

Half of the light emitted by stars, planets, and galaxies over the lifetime of the Universe emerges in the infrared. The Origins Space Telescope (Origins) will access this information-rich spectral region to uncover the crucial missing pieces of our cosmic history. Origins is a community-led, NASA-supported mission concept study in preparation for the 2020 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey. The Origins Space Telescope  and its suite of instruments will utilize next-generation detectors and operate with spectral resolving power in steps from ~3 to 3x105 over wavelengths from 2.8 to 588 mm, the telescope and instruments will be cryocooled to 4.5 K, and the light collecting area, 25 m2, will match that of JWST. The low-risk design concept  has minimal dependence on deployments and leaves appropriate margin between science-driven measurement requirements and estimated performance.  Three science instruments provide powerful, new spectroscopic and imaging capabilities: Origins Survey Spectrometer (OSS, 25-590 µm), Far-infrared Imager and Polarimeter (FIP, 50 and 250 µm), Mid-Infrared Spectrometer and Camera Transit spectrometer (MISC-T, 2.8-20 µm).  Origins enables revolutionary scientific discoveries in many areas including:

How does the Universe work? Origins will probe our earliest cosmic origins by charting the rise of dust and metals in galaxies over cosmic time, and determine how the coevolution of star formation and supermassive black holes leads to the diversity in galaxies today.

How did we get here? Origins will follow the trail of water from the birth of the planet-forming disk to the assembly of pre-planetary materials, and in comets to understand the origin of Earth’s oceans.

Are we alone? Origins will measure biosignatures in transiting exoplanet atmospheres at mid-infrared wavelengths to assess the habitability of nearby exoplanets and search for signs of life.

Origins’ sensitivity exceeds that of its predecessor missions by a factor of 1000. Jumps of this magnitude are very rare in astronomy, and have always revolutionized our understanding of the Universe in unforeseen ways. Thus, it is essentially guaranteed that the most transformative discoveries of Origins are not even anticipated today. This presentation describes the Origins baseline mission concept and spotlight its vast science potential.

The decadal report is out:

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