National Capital Section
of the Optical Society of America

Fourth 2015-2016 meeting of the
National Capital Section of the Optical Society of America

Tuesday, January 19th , 6 PM

At the NASA/Goddard Visitors Center

ICESat Road, Greenbelt, MD


Occultation Technology Development Toward

Detection and Characterization of Nearby Exo-Earths


Featuring: Dr. Brian Hicks

Optics Branch, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center



This talk presents a sampling of technology being developed to enhance detection and characterization of Earth-like exoplanets using naturally occulting (transiting) systems, as well artificial occulters for direct imaging including starshades, coronagraphs, and nulling interferometers that may be paired with future space-based telescope architectures to yield adequate collecting area, resolution and contrast to access Earth-like exoplanets. Challenging requirements that are shared or specific to each approach are highlighted including bandpass, detector noise, and stability.


About our featured speaker:

Dr. Brian Hicks joined the Goddard Space Flight Center Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory as a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow in 2014. His priority at GSFC has been to see the Visible Nulling Coronagraph through a broadband demonstration of 109 contrasts at an off-axis separation of two diffraction radii from the center of a bright, on-axis, imaged source.  Prior to his work at GSFC, Dr. Hicks was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UMass Lowell proposing, designing, and building instrumentation for space-based experimentation, including two NASA sounding rocket programs spanning three flights. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (Photonics) in 2012 and M.A. in Astronomy in 2006, both from Boston University, and B.A. in Physics from Macalester College in 2002.



Tuesday 19, January, 2016

6:00 PM: Social Hour & Networking: Complementary refreshments

6:30 PM: Featured Talk:  “Occultation Technology Development Toward Detection and Characterization of Nearby Exo-Earths”, by Brian Hicks

7:45 PM: Optional Dinner with the speaker as our guest

Jim Heany,

DIRECTIONS: to NASA/Goddard Visitor Center, Greenbelt, MD

From Washington, DC:

Take the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (Rt. 295) north to Greenbelt Road (Rt. 193).  Take Greenbelt Road east for approximately two miles.  The main gate will be on the left at the first traffic light after Cipriano Road.  Continue on to the next traffic light and turn left onto ICESat Road (formerly Soil Conservation Road).  Take your first left to reach the Visitor Center.


From Baltimore:

Take the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (Route 295) South to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.  Exit at Powder Mill road, turn left and go under the bridge.  Turn right at the first traffic light and go about 3 miles to Goodluck Road and turn right when you reach Greenbelt Road.  Take your first right at ICESat Road, which is what this section of what was Soil Conservation road is now called.  Take your first left to reach the Visitors Center.

A map to the NASA Goddard Visitor's center is at their website:


Please share this announcement with your colleagues, and tell them to look at our Web Site at:

If you would like to receive the meeting announcements, please send an email to asking that your name be added to our mailing list.

Membership Dues for 2015-2016 - Dues for the National Capital Section are free during the first year of membership. After the first year, dues are $10 per year. If you have not yet paid, please send $10 ($5 for students) to the NCS/OSA secretary at the address given below. If you are not sure if you have paid, please call (301) 286-0690 or e-mail to check.

Previous Meeting Announcements

Legacy NCS-OSA Website