2024 Sagan Summer Workshop

Advances in Direct Imaging: From Young Jupiters to Habitable Earths

July 22-26, 2024
Hosted by The NASA Exoplanet Science Institute

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA


Direct imaging and spectroscopy has become a standard tool for studying the atmospheres and orbits of young, self-luminous giant planets in wide orbits. Advances in starlight suppression and spectroscopy technologies and techniques have gradually improved sensitivity to lower-mass and closer-in young planets. Going forward, ground- and space-based observatories will have complementary roles to play in the study of mature planetary systems, whether the search for biosignatures on Earth-like planets or the characterization of the variety of planetary system architectures.

This workshop will cover the scientific questions in exoplanets motivating direct imaging. Sessions will explore basic optical principles of high-contrast imaging and the fundamentals of coronagraph and wavefront sensing technologies and high-contrast instrument design. Presentations and group exercises will cover approaches to starlight/PSF subtraction and to planet and disk recovery, determination of orbits from imaging observations, and other topics. The workshop will conclude with a look toward future facilities.

The 2024 workshop will be hybrid with both in-person and on-line attendance. The Sagan Summer Workshops are aimed at advanced undergraduates, grad students, and postdocs, however all are welcome to attend. There is no registration fee for these workshops.


There is no registration fee to attend the workshop either in person or remotely. Register using this link.

For remote attendees, we will stream the workshop sessions live and have a Slack channel for remote questions that we will try to answer during the live talks, though the conversation can continue on Slack. All talks will be available on our YouTube channel following the workshop.

Following the workshop, all attendees will have the opportunity to request a letter of attendance.

Travel Support Applications due March 21

Limited travel support is available for undergraduate and graduate students, and postdocs. The amount of travel support that we can offer is limited to local costs (hotel and per diem) only. We cannot provide airfare and applicants are encouraged to seek other sources to augment any travel funds NExScI can provide. Please read the travel guidelines; further information will be provided to the successful applicants.

Note that if you are awarded travel support from IPAC/NExScI, you must agree to participate in the hands-on sessions group projects, with informal presentations at the workshop on Friday, July 26. We also strongly encourage all those receiving travel support to submit a poster and/or POP presentation as part of their participation in the workshop.

Click here for the travel support application.

Each application must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation that should be submitted here. The letter should include a short statement about how the student will benefit from attending the workshop and an indication of financial need, including other possible sources of funding.

Preliminary Agenda

Hands-on Sessions

Sagan Workshop List of Participants (in person) (remote)

Code of Conduct

Important Dates in 2024

  • February 15: Registration and Travel Support Application sites available
  • March 21: Travel Support Applications and Recommendation Letters due to NExScI by 5 pm PDT
  • April 12: Travel Support decisions announced via email
  • May 22: Deadline for NASA and JPL employees to forecast their attendance (NCTS #49505-24)
  • May 31: POP/poster submission site, speaker meetings sign-ups, and food ordering site available
  • June 24: Pasadena Hotel room reservation deadline
  • July 11: Deadline for Poster/POP Submissions and Food Ordering
  • July 18: Final agenda posted with POP schedule
  • July 22-26: 2024 Sagan Summer Workshop
  • July 29: Letters of Attendance request site available
  • August 16: Deadline to request Letter of Attendance and to submit your photo for the class photo
  • mid-September: Letters of Attendance will be sent by this time

Scientific Organizing Committee

Local Organizing Committee

Vanessa Bailey, Co-Chair (JPL)

Tracy Chen (Caltech/IPAC-NExScI)

Bruce Macintosh, Co-Chair (UC Observatories)

Megan Crane (Caltech/IPAC-NExScI)

Chas Beichman (Caltech/IPAC-NExScI)

Dawn Gelino (Caltech/IPAC-NExScI)

Beth Biller (University of Edinburgh)

Ellen O'Leary (Caltech/IPAC-NExScI)

Faustine Cantalloube (LAM)

Melanie Swain (Caltech/IPAC-NExScI)

Matthew Kenworthy (Leiden University)

Aki Roberge (NASA GSFC)

Ty Robinson (University of Arizona/LPL)

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View presentations from previous summer workshops on the Sagan Summer Workshop YouTube Channel.

Image credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab

(last updated February 29th, 2024 12:27:30)