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? To answer these alluring questions, Origins will operate at mid- and far-infrared wavelengths and offer powerful spectroscopic instruments and sensitivity three orders of magnitude better than that of Herschel, the largest telescope flown in space to date. After a 3 ½ year study, the Origins Science and Technology Definition Team will recommend to the Decadal Survey a concept for Origins with a 5.9-m diameter telescope cryocooled to 4.5 K and equipped with three scientific instruments. A mid-infrared instrument (MISC-T) will measure the spectra of transiting exoplanets in the 2.8 – 20 μm wavelength range and offer unprecedented sensitivity, enabling definitive biosignature detections. The Far-IR Imager Polarimeter (FIP) will be able to survey thousands of square degrees with broadband imaging at 50 and 250 μm. The Origins Survey Spectrometer (OSS) will cover wavelengths from 25 – 588 μm, make wide-area and deep spectroscopic surveys with spectral resolving power R ~ 300, and pointed observations at R ~ 40,000 and 300,000 with selectable instrument modes. Origins was designed to minimize complexity. The telescope has a Spitzer-like architecture and requires very few deployments after launch. The cryo-thermal system design leverages JWST technology and experience. A combination of current-state-of-the-art cryocoolers and next-generation detector technology will enable Origins’ natural backgroundlimited sensitivity.
This paper discusses the optical design of the Origins Space Telescope. Origins is one of four large missions under study in preparation for the 2020 Decadal Survey in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Sensitive to the mid- and far-infrared spectrum (between 2.8 and 588 μm), Origins sets out to answer a number of important scientific questions by addressing NASA’s three key science goals in astrophysics. The Origins telescope has a 5.9 m diameter primary mirror and operates at f/14. The large on-axis primary consists of 18 ‘keystone’ segments of two different prescriptions arranged in two annuli (six inner and twelve outer segments) that together form a circular aperture in the goal of achieving a symmetric point spread function. To accommodate the 46 x 15 arcminute full field of view of the telescope at the design wavelength of λ = 30 μm, a three-mirror anastigmat configuration is used. The design is diffraction-limited across its instruments’ fields of view. A brief discussion of each of the three baselined instruments within the Instrument Accommodation Module (IAM) is presented: 1) Origins Survey Spectrometer (OSS), 2) Mid-infrared Spectrometer, Camera (MISC) transit spectrometer channel, and 3) Far-Infrared Polarimeter/Imager (FIP). In addition, the upscope options for the observatory are laid out as well including a fourth instrument: the Heterodyne Receiver for Origins (HERO).