The Next Great Space Telescope: Lessons for Success in the Search for Life Outside the Solar System

John Mather, Mark Clampin

American Institute of Physics

Wednesday, June 5, 2024 5:45 pm EDT

Online via YouTube and in person
555 12th Street
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Washington, DC 20004

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We are living in a golden age for astronomy, as cutting-edge observatories probe the earliest moments of the universe, map the cosmos, and study planets orbiting distant stars. The next generation of telescopes will advance that work still further, with capabilities under development enabling studies of small, Earth-like planets, which could result in the detection of signatures of life. However, designing and building these telescopes present tremendous challenges. How do you choose what capabilities a telescope should have, and how do you decide the time is ripe to build it? How do you allocate resources among different telescopes in a portfolio, and how do you maintain policymakers’ confidence as you build them? Our guests have decades of experience confronting such problems, which they are drawing on as they lead the work of carrying future telescopes from drawing board to reality.
Speaker Bio
Dr. Mather won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006 for his work on the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission, which made the first detailed observations of the cosmic microwave background. From 1995 to 2023, he was the Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Dr. Clampin is the director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters, overseeing NASA’s entire portfolio of astrophysics missions and research. Before joining NASA HQ in 2022, he held a series of senior positions at the Goddard Space Flight Center, including Observatory Project Scientist for the Webb Telescope, Astrophysics Division Director, and Director of the Sciences and Exploration Directorate.