Origins Space Telescope: Trades and decisions leading to the baseline mission concept

And The Origins Space Telescope Mission Concept Study Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Origins Space Telescope will trace the history of our origins from the time dust and heavy elements permanently altered the cosmic landscape to present-day life. How did galaxies evolve from the earliest galactic systems to those found in the universe today? How do habitable planets form? How common are life-bearing worlds? We describe how Origins was designed to answer these alluring questions. We discuss the key decisions taken by the Origins mission concept study team, the rationale for those choices, and how they led through an exploratory design process to the Origins baseline mission concept. To understand the concept solution space, we studied two distinct mission concepts and descoped the second concept, aiming to maximize science per dollar and hit a self-imposed cost target. We report on the study approach and describe the concept evolution. The resulting baseline design includes a 5.9-m diameter telescope cryocooled to 4.5 K and equipped with three scientific instruments. The chosen architecture is similar to that of the Spitzer Space Telescope and requires very few deployments after launch. The cryo-thermal system design leverages James Webb Space Telescope technology and experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number011014
JournalJournal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • cryogenic
  • infrared
  • mission concept development
  • space telescope
  • spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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