Can we take a picture of an Earth-like planet?! | Habitable Worlds Observatory 2040s

From Dr. Becky.

AD | To try everything Brilliant has to offer—free—for a full 30 days, visit and you’ll get 20% off Brilliant’s annual premium subscription. | The Habitable Worlds Observatory is a space based telescope that plans to directly image earth-like planets around sun-like stars, due to launch in the 2040s. It’s a space telescope that’s set to be the same size as JWST but instead of observing in the infrared, it detects visible and ultraviolet light. It’ll sit at the stable point Lagrange point 2, just like JWST, around 1.5 million km away from Earth AND the plan is for it to be serviced like the Hubble Space Telescope was by astronauts, but this time by robots. I chatted to Mark Clampin, the Director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA about the plans for this project. But don’t get too excited though because it’s not set to launch until the 2040s, so how come we’re already talking about it now?

My previous video on JWST’s search for biosignatures –

1972 decadal survey (Hubble Space Telescope recommendation) –
1982 decadal survey (Chandra X-ray Telescope recommendation) –
1991 decadal survey (Spitzer Space Telescope recommendation) –
2001 decadal survey (James Webb Space Telescope recommendation) –
2010 decadal survey (Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope recommendation) –
2023 decadal survey (Habitable Worlds Observatory recommendation) –

00:00 – What is the Habitable Worlds Observatory?
01:37 – Astrophysics decadal survey recommendations – Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, JWST, Roman, HWO
04:55 – How is HWO different to JWST? Transits vs direct imaging
07:06 – The magic of integral field units
09:20 – Involvement of ESA and the UK Space Agency
10:49 – Interview with Mark Clampin, Director of Astrophysics Division, NASA
16:39 – Brilliant
18:12 – Bloopers

Video filmed on a Sony ⍺7 IV

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👩🏽‍💻 I’m Dr. Becky Smethurst, an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford (Christ Church). I love making videos about science with an unnatural level of enthusiasm. I like to focus on how we know things, not just what we know. And especially, the things we still don’t know. If you’ve ever wondered about something in space and couldn’t find an answer online – you can ask me! My day job is to do research into how supermassive black holes can affect the galaxies that they live in. In particular, I look at whether the energy output from the disk of material orbiting around a growing supermassive black hole can stop a galaxy from forming stars.