MIT Astrophysics Colloquium 04/30/2024 — Courtney Dressing: The Habitable Worlds Observatory

Tuesday April 30, 2024 4:00 pm

Title: The Habitable Worlds Observatory

The Habitable Worlds Observatory (HWO) is a future large UV/optical/NIR space observatory recommended by the 2020 Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics. HWO will conduct transformative studies in general astrophysics by observing the universe with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution, providing new insights into cosmic structure, galaxy evolution, stellar astrophysics, and the life cycle of baryons. The observatory will obtain near-flyby quality observations of solar system objects, thereby supporting solar system missions and advancing our understanding of the closest planets, moons, and small bodies. In addition to directly observing and acquiring spectra of roughly 25 habitable zone planets that could potentially harbor life, HWO will obtain images and spectra of hundreds of planets with a range of masses, radii, atmospheric compositions, and orbital properties. The Science, Technology, and Architecture Review Team (START) and Technical Assessment Group (TAG) are guiding Great Observatory Maturation Program (GOMAP) activities for HWO. The START is tasked with quantifying the science objectives for HWO and is mapping scientific goals to specific observational capabilities. The TAG is investigating the range of possible mission architectures and assessing the risk associated with various options. To support these efforts, the START and TAG have set up multiple working groups and subgroups. These groups are open to community participation and over 1000 individuals have signed up to participate. I will review the progress made by the START, TAG, and working groups; discuss future plans for START, TAG, and working groups; and highlight additional opportunities to get involved with HWO for people at all career stages from around the world.

Host: Andrew Vanderburg                                                                                                                                                                                    via Zoom


  • Courtney Dressing, University of California, Berkeley

Event Contact

Nayanika Yellepeddi