NASA Insignia
Far-IR Surveyor

Origins Space Telescope

The Origins Space Telescope (OST) is the mission concept for the Far-IR Surveyor study. Through a variety of investigations, the OST will address one of the most compelling questions imaginable: How did we get here? That is, "How did our galaxy form?," and "How did our life-bearing planet form?" The Origins Space Telescope mission will revolutionize our understanding of planetary system formation, detect previously unknown extrasolar planets based on their sculpting effects on protoplanetary and debris disks, unveil the dark side of galaxy evolution, and open up an information-rich and still largely unexplored region of discovery space. The quest to understand water transport in protoplanetary disks and the formation of a planet like Earth is a particularly compelling mission goal. Similarly tantalizing, many distant galaxies emit most of their light in the far-IR and are too deeply shrouded in dust to discern whether they are powered predominantly by young stars or nuclear activity.

These and other visionary science goals and measurement requirements for the Origins Space Telescope will be established by a community-based Science and Technology Definition Team (STDT). The STDT will be supported by a NASA Center Study Office based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, with partners at several other NASA Centers and in industry. Drs. Asantha Cooray (UC Irvine) and Margaret Meixner (STScI) were selected to serve as STDT Co-Chairs. The STDT members were chosen from approximately 90 submitted applications. Dr. David Leisawitz is the NASA Study Scientist, and Ms. Ruth Carter is the Study Manager.

NASA's Astrophysics Roadmap, Enduring Quests, Daring Visions, recognized the need for an Origins Space Telescope mission with enhanced measurement capabilities relative to those of the Herschel Space Observatory, such as a three order of magnitude gain in sensitivity, angular resolution sufficient to overcome spatial confusion in deep cosmic surveys or to resolve protoplanetary disks, and new spectroscopic capability. Inspired by the Roadmap, the Far-IR Surveyor Study Team will develop a scientifically compelling, executable mission concept for presentation to the Decadal Survey in 2019.


  • The STDT's fifth face-to-face meeting took place on June 14 - 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. See the events page for details.
  • An article on the OST Mission Study appeared in the Space Telescope Science Institute's Newsletter.

If you have a question or comment concerning the Origins Space Telescope, please contact