The Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx) is a concept for a mission to directly image planetary systems around Sun-like stars. HabEx will be sensitive to all types of planets; however its main goal is, for the first time, to directly image Earth-like exoplanets, and characterize their atmospheric content. By measuring the spectra of these planets, HabEx will search for signatures of habitability such as water, and be sensitive to gases in the atmosphere possibility indicative of biological activity, such as oxygen or ozone. 

In addition to the search for life on Earth-like exoplanets, HabEx will enable a broad range of general astrophysics, from studying the earliest epochs of the history of the Universe, to understanding the life cycle and deaths of the most massive stars, which ultimately supply the elements that are needed to support life as we know it. These studies will be enabled by the same technology that will allow HabEx to study Earth-like planets: a large, stable telescope in space with unprecedented resolution that is sensitive to ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared photons. Furthermore, the HabEx concept is particularly compelling, as it is ripe for development, being both technologically and scientifically implementable in the next decade.

The HabEx concept is one of four mission concepts currently being studied in preparation for the 2020 Astrophysics Decadal Survey. The study is being undertaken by a Science and Technology Definition Team (STDT) comprised of experts within the community and is being managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The study is due to conclude in 2019.



The primary goal of HabEx is to image and study habitable exoplanets. However, it will also study the full range of exoplanets within the systems.

With a large aperture optical/infrared space-based telescope, it will be possible for HabEx to study a broad range of Galactic and extragalactic astrophysics.

HabEx will search for potential signs of habitability in the atmospheres of exoplanets by seeking signs of water and other biosignature gases, including oxygen and ozone.


There are two key methods for blocking light from stars to enable direct imaging of exoplanets. HabEx will  investigate both methods:

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A coronagraph is a tiny dot that sits inside the telescope and blocks light from the star from reaching the detectors.

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A starshade is a large petal shaped vehicle, separate from the telescope, which blocks light from the star before it enters the telescope.


Future in Space Google Hangout featuring HabEx
12 p.m. PT, Sep 21, 2017
Watch live:
HabEx STDT Telecon #48
12 p.m. PT, Aug. 14, 2017
1) Logistics, format, and style guidelines for writing the interim report

HabEx STDT Telecon #47
12 p.m. PT, Aug. 7, 2017
1) Fleshing out the “deep dive” science case - All

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