Earth is an exoplanet to aliens: This is what they'd see

The study of exoplanets has matured considerably in the last 10 years. During this time, the majority of the over 4000 exoplanets currently known were discovered. It was also during this time that the process has started ...

NASA's Webb Telescope shines with American ingenuity

To send humans to the Moon 50 years ago, an entire nation rose to the challenge. Surmounting countless hurdles, inventing new technologies while staring into the face of the unknown, NASA successfully pioneered multiple lunar ...

NASA's Webb Telescope will survey Saturn and Titan

If you stop a random person on the sidewalk and ask them what their favorite planet is, chances are their answer will be Saturn. Saturn's stunning rings are a memorable sight in any backyard telescope. But there is still ...

NASA's Webb Sunshield undergoes rocket fitting, more testing

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's spacecraft element, which consists of the observatory's spacecraft bus and the sunshield, was put in the same folded-up configuration that it will be in when mounted on atop a rocket for ...

How NASA's Spitzer has stayed alive for so long

After nearly 16 years of exploring the cosmos in infrared light, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope will be switched off permanently on Jan. 30, 2020. By then, the spacecraft will have operated for more than 11 years beyond its ...

A new view of exoplanets with NASA's upcoming Webb Telescope

While we now know of thousands of exoplanets—planets around other stars—the vast majority of our knowledge is indirect. That is, scientists have not actually taken many pictures of exoplanets, and because of the limits ...

New clues about how ancient galaxies lit up the universe

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed that some of the universe's earliest galaxies were brighter than expected. The excess light is a byproduct of the galaxies releasing incredibly high amounts of ionizing radiation. ...

NASA's Webb Telescope wrapped in a mobile clean room

Before moving NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, and to assure that it's kept clean and safe, Webb got a very special wrapping treatment. The wrapping acts as a "mobile clean room," safeguarding the technological marvel from ...

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James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a planned infrared space observatory, the partial successor to the aging Hubble Space Telescope. The JWST will not be a complete successor, because it will not be sensitive to all of the light wavelengths that Hubble can see. The main scientific goal is to observe the most distant objects in the universe, those beyond the reach of either ground based instruments or the Hubble. The JWST project is a NASA-led international collaboration with contributors in 15 nations, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Originally called the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), it was renamed in 2002 after NASA's second administrator, James E. Webb (1906-1992). Webb had overseen NASA 1961-68 from the beginning of the Kennedy administration through the end of the Johnson administration, thus overseeing all the critical first manned launches in the Mercury through Gemini programs, until just before the first manned Apollo flight.

Current plans call for the telescope to be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket in 2014, on a five-year mission. The JWST will reside in solar-orbit near the Sun-Earth L2 point, which is on a line passing from the Sun to the Earth, but about 1.5 million km farther away from the Sun than is the Earth. This position, which moves around the Sun in exact orbital synchrony with the Earth, will allow JWST to shield itself from infrared from both Sun and Earth, by using a single radiation shield positioned between the telescope and the Sun-Earth direction.

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