The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or Webb) is an international collaboration between NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). It will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. The telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in 2021.
JWST will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.
Several innovative technologies have been developed for Webb. These include a primary mirror made of 18 separate segments that unfold and adjust to shape after launch. The mirrors are made of ultra-lightweight beryllium. Webb’s biggest feature is a tennis court sized five-layer sunshield that attenuates heat from the Sun more than a million times.
The Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) includes three scientific instruments:
- Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) is Webb’s primary imager that will cover the infrared wavelength range 0.6 to 5 microns;
- Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) will operate over a wavelength range of 0.6 to 5 microns;
- Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) has both a camera and a spectrograph that sees light in the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum