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 will hold its ninth face-to-face meeting 23 - 24 October 2018. See the Events page for the agenda and remote connection instructions.
  • STDT telecons will be held weekly beginning on 3 August 2018. See the Events page for connection instructions.
  • The STDT and study partners presented fourteen papers on OST at the SPIE Conference on Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation in Austin, 10 - 15 June 2018.
  • The STDT held its eighth face-to-face meeting May 15 - 16, 2018, in Palo Alto, CA.
  • Beginning April 6, 2018, the STDT bi-weekly telecon will move to a new webex address. For details, please see the Events page.
  • OST Concept 1 paper models were distributed at the January 2018 AAS meeting. Assembly instructions are now available in 720 and 1080-pixel video files. Note that these are rather large files (200 - 300 MB). It may be helpful to view the video in slow motion.

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