Talks & Events
Astronomy and Astrophysics Colloquia - Usually Wednesdays, 3:30 PM, ERC 161, unless otherwise specified. Reception starts at 4:30 PM in Hubble Lounge; persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please call the departmental secretary in advance at 773-702-8203 or email deptsecoddjob.uchicago.edu. See also the list of KICP Wednesday Colloquia which alternate with the Astronomy and Astrophysics Colloquia.
Current & Future Astronomy Colloquia
WFIRST: Where Things Stand with the First Exoplanet Direct Imaging Flight Mission
Maggie Turnbull, SETI
The WFIRST mission will be the first demonstration of exoplanet coronagraphy in space, and is intended to demonstrate several key technologies that are on the critical path to larger missions that will eventually find and spectrally characterize planets that could be habitable to life as we know it. WFIRST entered Phase A in January of 2016, and is expected to enter Phase B in April of this year. This talk will describe the entertaining story of how this mission came to be, where things currently stand in terms of predicted imaging performance, the potential for a starshade rendezvous mission, and what to expect for guest observer opportunities. I'll also describe how the two coronagraph science teams are working to maximize the scientific output of what is categorized as a "technology demonstration" instrument. Finally, I'll offer some of my personal take-aways from the experience of watching such a large and challenging mission come together.