Physics of the Cosmos
Exploring fundamental questions regarding the physical forces of the universe

Program News and Announcements

6 September 2023

Special Announcement About the Habitable Worlds Observatory START and TAG Teams

Dear Colleagues,

We want to thank you for the tremendous interest from the community in the Habitable Worlds Observatory. The large number of self-nominations for the Science, Technology, Architecture Review Team (START) gave us the ability to form a diverse START with the skills and backgrounds needed to study the Astro2020-recommended science scope for HWO. The START will be working closely with the HWO Technical Assessment Group (TAG), composed of agency personnel that will identify opportunities for external involvement from industry, academia, etc. related to HWO’s technical strategy. We are posting the announced membership lists of the START and TAG on the GOMAP website.

The START and TAG will work together to quantify the Astro2020 recommended science scope for HWO, understand each science objective’s breakpoints, and study architecture options to meet that scope. The START will have the main responsibility for studying and quantifying the scope of HWO. The TAG will identify the HWO architecture options, high-level design trades, as well as aerospace landscape opportunities HWO can leverage. The coupled nature of these two groups’ responsibilities will be acknowledged by frequent collaboration between the two groups.

Additionally, we are asking both teams to interface with and expand the broader community of contributors to HWO. That includes further outreach to historically excluded communities, and establishment of an “inclusive one-team culture” in preparation for a potential project office that will need expertise from across the agency, multiple commercial, and academic partners. Community involvement will also be facilitated by additional opportunities for involvement with HWO:

  • The START and TAG activities will be conducted in a transparent and open manner, with opportunities for input from community members.
  • The START and TAG will coordinate and create working groups to support that work, which will include and may be led by community members not on the START and the TAG.
  • We will create a mentorship program for the START and TAG, focused on bringing in early career personnel from institutions not currently represented on the START or TAG.
  • Individuals and teams can propose to the HWO-relevant calls, including
    • Astrophysics Decadal Survey Precursor Science
    • Extreme-Precision Radial Velocity Foundations Science
    • Strategic Astrophysics Technology
    • Future HWO-specific calls, for example on technology development, architecture trade studies
    • Technology roadmapping
  • The NASA Astrophysics Program Analysis Groups (PAGs) have created and may create HOW-relevant Science Analysis Groups (SAGs)

Please consider getting involved in these activities, and also please encourage your fellow community members to get involved with these and other HWO-relevant activities. We look forward to working with you on these and other activities to make HWO an endeavor that the community is included in and proud to have been a part of.

To find out more about how to get involved with HWO, you can tune into the START and the TAG kickoff meeting from October 31-November 2, 2023. Information on how to participate virtually will be made available on the GOMAP website once those details are available. That webpage will also contain information about future START/TAG meetings, and other ways to get involved with HWO.

If you have any questions or concerns please email us at or


Julie Crooke and Shawn Domagal-Goldman

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