NASA's Origins Program
A. F. Boden & C. Beichman
Copyright, Paul Shuch
We will describe NASA's Origins Program, which seeks to answer two enduring human questions that we once considered around ancient campfires, yet are still alive in today's classrooms: Where do we come from? Are we alone?
Knowing "where we come from" means understanding how the great chain of events unleashed after the Big Bang culminated in us and in everything we observe today. It is the story of our cosmic roots, told in terms of all that precedes us: the origin and development of galaxies, stars, planets, and the chemical conditions necessary to support life.
Knowing our uniqueness--"whether we're alone" in the cosmos--depends on our search for life-sustaining planets and on our understanding of its glorious diversity here on Earth. Only by seeing the innumerable possibilities on our home planet can we be sure that we'll recognize life if and when we find it somewhere else.
Over the course of the next two decades, the Origins Program will develop the
sophisticated telescopes and technologies that will bring us the information we
seek. While the questions are challenging, our generation is privileged to have
the technological ability to reveal the possibilities for the first time. Just
as the Greeks were known for democracy, the Egyptians for pyramids, and the
Romans for roads, our civilization may well be remembered for discovering life
beyond our own planet, forever changing our perception of the Universe and our
place within it.
Galaxy Formation, Star Formation, Exoplanets, Chemical
Evolution; Astrobiology; Segmented Telescopes, Optical Interferometry.
Principal Author Biography
Andy Boden is the Project Scientist for the Interferometry
Science Center at Caltech, and is active in the development and operations of
ground-based and space-based interferometric components of NASA's Origins
Principal Author Affiliation