After much consideration, the next-generation instrument will observe 13 targets in its first five months of scientific observations
Hydrogen pouring from volcanic sources on planets throughout the universe could improve chances of locating life in the cosmos
The system has both the largest number of Earth-sized planets yet found and the largest number of worlds that could support liquid water on their surfaces
Missions may be able to sample the Jupiter moon’s ocean without having to drill through miles of ice
Astronomers have obtained the most precise measurement yet of how fast the universe is expanding at the present time
Similar in size and temperature to Venus and Earth, the exoplanets are the best targets so far in our search for life
Don’t miss the transit of Mercury with our complete guide to the rarest astronomical event of the decade
Astronomers have shattered the cosmic distance record by measuring the farthest galaxy ever seen in the universe
The 18th and final primary mirror segment has now been installed on what will be the biggest and most powerful space telescope ever launched
Meet the NASA scientists planning to evacuate Earth and save the human race in the latest edition of All About Space – out now!
All About Space takes a look at Earth’s newly discovered cousin
We find out which spacecraft will be the next big thing in our exploration of the universe
By putting a huge umbrella into space, we could come closer to finding extraterrestrial life
With no air in space, do engineers have to take more care? We take a look…
Discover what’s inside All About Space issue 16 now!
Here are ten amazing facts about the JWST that you might not have known.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), originally known as the Next Generation Space Telescope, employs engineering techniques never used on a space telescope before and will produce unparalleled views of the universe. The JWST is scheduled for launch in 2018 in a joint venture between the ESA, NASA and Arianespace. Primarily, the JWST will observe infrared light from distant objects.
To gather light on the telescope the primary mirror on the JWST is made of 18 hexagonal beryllium segments, which are much lighter than traditional glass and also very strong. To roughly point the telescope in the direction of its observations a star tracker is used, and a Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) is employed to fine-tune the viewings.
The secondary mirror on the JWST, which reflects the light from the primary mirror into the instruments on board, can be moved to focus the telescope on an objects. Each of the 18 hexagonal segments can also be individually adjusted and aligned to produce the perfect picture. While Hubble’s primary mirror is just 2.4 metres in diameter, the mirror on JWST is almost three times as big at 6.5 metres in diameter, allowing for much more distant and accurate observations.
A box called the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) sits behind the primary mirror to collect the light incident on the telescope. The ISIM is attached to a backplane, which also holds the telescope’s mirror and keeps them stable. A sunshield, composed of five layers of Kapton with aluminium and special silicon coatings to reflect sunlight, protects the incredibly sensitive instruments.
Image courtesy of NASA.
The successor to Hubble will change the way that we see the universe.