The James Webb Space Telescope aims to unlock the early Universe. NASA’s next space telescope, known as Webb, will capture infrared light from some of the rst stars and galaxies, which have never been seen before. From its orbit 1.5 million kilometres from Earth, the observatory will also peer at the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars, looking for hints of life.
NASAfactsThe James Webb Space Telescope’s revolutionary technology will
study every phase of cosmic history—from within our solar system
to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe.
Webb’s infrared telescope will explore a wide range of science
questions to help us understand the origins of the universe
and our place in it.
Seeking Light from the First
Galaxies in the Universe
Webb will directly observe a part of space and time never seen
before. Webb will gaze into the epoch when the very first stars and
galaxies formed, over 13.5 billion years ago. Ultraviolet and visible
light emitted by the very first luminous objects has been stretched
or “redshifted” by the universe’s continual expansion and arrives
today as infrared light. Webb is designed to “see” this infrared light
with unprecedented resolution and sensitivity.
Exploring Distant Worlds
and the Solar System
Webb will also be a powerful tool for studying the nearby universe.
Scientists will use Webb to study planets and other bodies in our
solar system to determine their origin and evolution and compare
them with exoplanets, planets that orbit other stars. Webb will
also observe exoplanets located in their stars’ habitable zones, the
regions where a planet could harbor liquid water on its surface, and
can determine if and where signatures of habitability may be present.
Using a technique called transmission spectroscopy, the observatory
will examine starlight filtered through planetary atmospheres to
learn about their chemical compositions.
PRIMARY MIRROR SIZE: 21.3 feet
(6.5 meters) across
MIRROR SHAPE: The mirror is comprised
of 18 gold-plated hexagonal deployable
SUNSHIELD: Webb’s five-layer deployable
sunshield is the size of a tennis court
INSTRUMENTS: Webb has four science
instruments: Near-Infrared Camera
(NIRCam), Near-Infrared Spectrograph
(NIRSpec), Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI),
and Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless
Spectrograph (NIRISS) with the