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Physics of the Cosmos News

6 March 2023

Habitable Worlds Observatory hybrid workshop 8–10 August 2023

NASA has begun planning for an ambitious program to develop the Habitable Worlds Observatory – the first in a panchromatic suite of observatories recommended by the Astro2020 Decadal Survey. The high-level science goals of the mission are to directly image ~25 potentially Earth-like planets and spectroscopically characterize them for signs of life, as well as perform exquisite general astrophysics.

To achieve the ambitious goal of directly observing habitable planets with high-contrast imaging, the starlight suppression capability of the Habitable Worlds Observatory will have to achieve contrast performance exceeding all that have come before. This will require significant advances both in coronagraphy and telescope stability. To inform future architecture trades, and the engineers and scientists who will conduct them, we will need a comprehensive survey of key technologies and approaches for combining them in an ultra-stable architecture. These will include the technologies identified in the LUVOIR and HabEx reports, and the advancements since those reports were published, as well as new/emerging technologies.

To bring the community to a common foundation of knowledge in preparation for architecture trades, NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program is planning a hybrid workshop on 8-10 August 2023 at the Caltech campus in Pasadena, CA entitled “Towards Starlight Suppression for the Habitable Worlds Observatory.”

The purpose of this workshop is to:

  • Discuss current best understanding of required starlight suppression performance levels
  • Present the best performances to-date of key technologies and approaches (lab demonstrations, modeling, hardware)
  • Discuss the suppression/stability trade space for the observatory and the coronagraph (note: this will not include performing trades, only mapping out the space).
  • Discuss remaining technical gaps and potential future efforts for maturation/risk reduction

This workshop will be open to all and will provide a valuable foundation for those interested in contributing to the Habitable Worlds Observatory, from students new to the field to experts with decades of experience. In keeping with NASA and the community’s commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA), those with diverse and/or under-represented backgrounds are especially encouraged to attend. To maintain accessibility of the material to a broad audience, no level of previous knowledge is expected beyond basic operations of an IR/O/UV telescope.

The organizing committee will be soliciting summary talks from experts in relevant areas and provide ample time for open debate and discussion. At the completion of the workshop, attendees will be knowledgeable in the technical basis of coronagraph performance needs, current capabilities, and remaining gaps/risks as well as the overall coronagraph-observatory stability trade space.

Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, please feel free to indicate interest and sign up to receive future announcements by contacting Jennifer Gregory at jgregory@jpl.nasa.gov.

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