James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST) is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope. The project is working to a 2018 launch date. Webb will find the first galaxies that formed in the early Universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own MIlky Way Glaxy. Webb will peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems, connecting the Milky Way to our own Solar System. Webb's instruments are designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. Webb will have a large primary mirror, 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in diameter and a sunshield the size of a tennis court. Both the mirror and sunshade won't fit onto the Ariane 5 rocket fully open, so both will fold up and open once Webb is in outer space. Webb will operate in an orbit about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from the Earth. The James Webb Space Telescope was named after the NASA Administrator who crafted Apollo program, and who was a staunch supporter of space science.

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Spacecraft Animation

Science Animation

  • Re-Ionization Era Simulation
    2010.11.01
    The visualization shows galaxies, composed of gas, stars and dark matter, colliding and forming filaments in the large-scale universe providing a view of the Cosmic Web. The Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) collaborated with NASA and Drs. Renyue Cen and Jeremiah Ostriker to visualize a simulation of the nonlinear cosmological evolution of the universe.

    Drs. Cen and Ostriker developed one of the largest cosmological hydrodynamic simulations and computed over 749 gigabytes of raw data at the NCSA in 2005. AVL used Amore software (http://avl.ncsa.illinois.edu/what-we-do/software) to interpolate and render approximately 322 gigabytes of a subset of the computed data. The simulation begins about 20 million years after the Big Bang - about 13.7 billion years ago - and extends until the present day.

    AVL(http://avl.ncsa.illinois.edu/) at NCSA (http://ncsa.illinois.edu/), University of Illinois (www.illinois.edu)

  • Galaxy Collision Simulation
    2010.10.29
    The Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) collaborated with NASA and Drs. Brant Robertson and Lars Hernquist to visualize two colliding galaxies that interact and merge into a single elliptical galaxy over a period spanning two billion years of evolution. The scientific theoretical model and the computational data output were developed by Drs. Brant Robertson and Lars Hernquist. AVL rendered more than 80 gigabytes of this data using in-house rendering software and Virtual Director for camera choreography. This computation provides important research to understand galaxy mergers, and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will provide data to test such theories. When two large disk-shaped galaxies merge — as will happen within the next few billion years with the Milky Way galaxy and its largest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy — the result will likely settle into a cloud-shaped elliptical galaxy. Most elliptical galaxies observed today formed from collisions that occurred billions of years ago. It is difficult to observe such collisions now with ground-based telescopes since these collisions are billions of light-years away. JWST will probe in unprecedented detail those distant epochs, and provide exquisite images of mergers caught in the act of destroying disk galaxies.

    AVL at NCSA University of Illinois

  • Planetary Systems and
    Origins of Life Simulation
    2010.10.28
    Supercomputer simulations of planeratry evolution.

    Part 1: Turbulent Molecular Cloud Nebula with Protostellar Objects

    The Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) collaborated with NASA and Drs. Alexei Kritsuk and Michael Norman to visualize a computational data set of a turbulent molecular cloud nebula forming protostellar objects and accretion disks approximately 100 AU in diameter, on the order of the size of our solar system. AVL used its Amore software to interpolate and render the Adaptive Mesh Refinement (AMR) simulation generated from ENZO code for cosmology and astrophysics. The AMR simulation was developed by Drs. Kritsuk and Norman at the Laboratory for Computational Astrophysics.

    The AMR simulation generated more than 2 terabytes of data and follows star formation processes in a self-gravitating turbulent molecular cloud with a dynamic range of half-a-million in linear scale, resolving both the large-scale filamentary structure of the molecular cloud (~5 parsec) and accretion disks around emerging young protostellar objects (down to 2 AU).

    Part 2: Protoplanetary Disk and Planet Formation

    The Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) collaborated with NASA and Dr. Aaron Boley to visualize the 16,000 year evolution of a young, isolated protoplanetary disk which surrounds a newly-formed protostar. The disk forms spiral arms and a dense clump as a result of gravitational collapse. Dr. Aaron Boley developed this computational model to investigate the response of young disks to mass accretion from their surrounding envelopes, including the direct formation of planets and brown dwarfs through gravitational instability.

    The main formation mechanism for gas giant planets has been debated within the scientific community for over a decade. One of these theories is 'direct formation through gravitational instability.' If the self-gravity of the gas overwhelms the disk's thermal pressure and the stabilizing effect of differential rotation, the gas closest to the protostar rotates faster than gas farther away. In this scenario, regions of the gaseous disk collapse and form a planet directly. The study, presented in Boley (2009), explores whether mass accretion in the outer regions of disks can lead to such disk fragmentation. The simulations show that clumps can form in situ at large disk radii. If the clumps survive, they can become gas giants on wide orbits, e.g., Fomalhaut b, or even more massive objects called brown dwarfs. Whether a disk forms planets at large radii and, if so, the number of planets that form, depend on how much of the envelope mass is distributed at large distances from the protostar.

    The results of the simulations suggest that there are two modes of gas giant planet formation. The first mode occurs early in the disk's lifetime, at large radii, and through the disk instability mechanism. After the main accretion phase is over, gas giants can form in the inner disk, over a period of a million years, through the core accretion mechanism, which researchers are addressing in other studies.

    Thanks to R. H. Durisen, L. Mayer, and G. Lake for comments and discussions relating to this research. This study was supported in part by the University of Zurich, Institute for Theoretical Physics, and by a Swiss Federal Grant. Resources supporting this work were provided by the NASA High-End Computing (HEC) Program through the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames Research Center.

    AVL at NCSA, University of Illinois.

  • Galaxy Formation Simulation
    2010.11.01
    Supercomputer Simulations of Galaxy Formation and Evolution.

    This visualization shows small galaxies forming, interacting, and merging to make ever-larger galaxies. This 'hierarchical structure formation' is driven by gravity and results in the creation of galaxies with spiral arms much like our own Milky Way galaxy. The Adaptive Mesh Refinement (AMR) simulation generated from ENZO code for cosmology and astrophysics was developed by Drs. Brian O'Shea and Michael Norman. The AMR code generated 1.8 terabytes of data and was computed at NCSA. AVL used Amore software (http://avl.ncsa.illinois.edu/what-we-do/software) to interpolate and render 2700 frames (42 gigabytes of HD images). The simulation spans a time period of 13.7 billion years. This visualization provides insight into the assembly and formation of galaxies. James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will probe the earliest periods of galaxy formation by looking deep into space to see the first galaxies that form in the universe, only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

    The Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) collaborated with NASA and Drs. Brian O'Shea and Michael Norman to visualize the formation of a Milky Way-type galaxy.

    The Adaptive Mesh Refinement (AMR) simulation generated from ENZO code for cosmology and astrophysics was developed by Drs. Brian O'Shea and Michael Norman. The AMR code generated 1.8 terabytes of data and was computed at NCSA. AVL used Amore software (http://avl.ncsa.illinois.edu/what-we-do/software) to interpolate and render 2700 frames (42 gigabytes of HD images). The simulation spans a time period of 13.7 billion years. This visualization provides insight into the assembly and formation of galaxies. James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will probe the earliest periods of galaxy formation by looking deep into space to see the first galaxies that form in the universe, only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

    AVL(http://avl.ncsa.illinois.edu/) at NCSA (http://ncsa.illinois.edu/), University of Illinois (www.illinois.edu)

Instrument & Component Animation

  • Webb Instrument Animations
    2012.05.22
    The James Webb Space Telelscope carries 4 science instruments: the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), and the Fine Guidance Sensor / Near InfraRed Imager adn Slitless Spetrograph (FGS/NIRISS). All four instruments are housed in the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM).

Descriptive Sceince Concept Animations

Optics B-Roll

  • JWST Pathfinder Backplane Mirror Placement
    2015.06.03
    The center section of the "pathfinder" (test) backplane of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is being used to install Webb's test mirrors. By installing the mirrors on the replica, technicians at Goddard Space Flight Center are able to practice this delicate procedure for when the actual flight backplane arrives. Installation of the mirrors on the backplane requires precision, so practice is important.
  • First Flight Mirrors
    Arrive at NASA
    2012.12.10
    Broll of the first set of flight mirrors arriving at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center September, 2012.
  • Webb Mirror
    Polishing
    2013.11.05
    Webb Telescope's beryllium mirrors are polished at L3 Tinsley facility in Richmond, California.
  • Webb Mirror
    Gold Coating
    2013.11.05
    Each of the Webb Telescope mirrors is made of berylium and coated with a very thin layer of gold to improve the mirror's ability to reflect infrared light.
  • Flight Mirror
    Cryogenic Testing at MSFC
    2012.04.09
    The Webb Telescope's primary mirror has 18 hexagonal mirror segments. This footage taken at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center shows 6 primary mirror segments being prepared readied for cryogenic testing.
  • Secondary Mirror
    Arrives at Goddard
    2013.11.14
    B-roll of Webb's secondary mirror arriving at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • Secondary Mirror
    Deployment Test
    Time Lapse
    2014.11.13
    Engineeers at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center deploy the Webb Telescope Secondary Mirror and Support Structure during a test using the Backplane Pathfinder. The Backplane Pathfinder is an exact replica of the Webb Telescope's backplane structure. Engineers are working with the Backplane Pathfinder to test and perfect the processes and workflow they will use on the real thing. This test deployment occured on Saturday, October 25, 2014.

Instrument B-roll

  • MIRI Arrival
    NASA GSFC
    2013.11.05
    Webb Telescope's Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) has both a camera and a spectrograph that sees light in the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum, with wavelengths that are longer than our eyes see. The MIRI instrument arrived at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center May 30, 2013.
  • MIRI
    ESA B-roll
    2013.11.05
    The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) has both a camera and a spectrograph that sees light in the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum, with wavelengths that are longer than our eyes see. This b-roll of MIRI was captured in Europe.
  • NIRCam Arrives
    at NASA GSFC
    2013.11.06
    The Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) is Webb's primary imager that will cover the infrared wavelength range 0.6 to 5 microns. NIRCam will detect light from: the earliest stars and galaxies in the process of formation; the population of stars in nearby galaxies; as well as young stars in the Milky Way and Kuiper Belt objects. NIRCam is equipped with coronagraphs, instruments that allow astronomers to take pictures of very faint objects around a central bright object, like stellar systems. NIRCam's coronagraphs work by blocking a brighter object's light, making it possible to view the dimmer object nearby - just like shielding the sun from your eyes with an upraised hand can allow you to focus on the view in front of you. With the coronagraphs, astronomers hope to determine the characteristics of planets orbiting nearby stars.

    NIRCam was built by the University of Arizona and Lockheed Martin.

  • NIRSpec Instument
    Arrives at NASA
    2013.11.07
    The Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) is a near infrared multi-object dispersive spectrograph capable of simultaneously observing more than 100 sources over a field-of-view (FOV) larger than 3' x 3'. The NIRSpec will be the first spectrograph in space that has this capability.

    NIRSpec is being built for the European Space Agency (ESA) by the Astrium consortium.

  • FGS/NIRISS Installation
    into the ISIM Structure
    2013.03.11
    Time Lapse of FGS/NIRISS Installation into the ISIM Structure on February 28, 2013 in the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center clean room.

    NASA and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) engineers install the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) / Near-InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) instrument package onto the Webb Telescope's Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM). The FGS/NIRISS was built by the Canadian Space Agency and delivered to NASA Goddard in July of 2012.

    The Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) allows Webb to point precisely, so that it can obtain high-quality images. The Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph part of the FGS/NIRISS will be used to investigate the following science objectives: first light detection, exoplanet detection and characterization, and exoplanet transit spectroscopy. It has a wavelength range of 0.8 to 5.0 microns, and is a specialized instrument with three main modes, each of which addresses a separate wavelength range.

  • NIRCam Integration B-roll
    2014.04.15
    B-roll of engineers installing the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) into the Webb Telescope's Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) in the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center cleanroom. This delicate procedure took place on March 20, 2014 in preparation for the cryogenic test of a fully integrated ISIM structure that will occur this summer. The Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) is Webb's primary imager that will cover the infrared wavelength range 0.6 to 5 microns. NIRCam will detect light from: the earliest stars and galaxies in the process of formation; the population of stars in nearby galaxies; as well as young stars in the Milky Way and Kuiper Belt objects. NIRCam is equipped with coronagraphs, instruments that allow astronomers to take pictures of very faint objects around a central bright object, like stellar systems. NIRCam's coronagraphs work by blocking a brighter object's light, making it possible to view the dimmer object nearby - just like shielding the sun from your eyes with an upraised hand can allow you to focus on the view in front of you. With the coronagraphs, astronomers hope to determine the characteristics of planets orbiting nearby stars.
  • NIRSpec Integration B-Roll
    2014.04.08
    Engineers install the Near Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSpec) onto the Webb Telescope's Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center cleanroom. This delicate procedure took place during March 24 and March 25, 2014 in preparation for the cryogenic test of a fully integrated ISIM structure to occur this summer. The Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) is a near infrared multi-object dispersive spectrograph capable of simultaneously observing more than 100 sources over a field-of-view (FOV) larger than 3' x 3'. The NIRSpec will be the first spectrograph in space that has this capability. Targets in the Field of View are normally selected by opening groups of shutters in a micro-shutter array (MSA) to form multiple apertures. The microshutters are arranged in a waffle-like grid that contains more than 62000 shutters with each cell measuring 100 µm x 200 µm. Sweeping a magnet across the surface of the MSA opens all operable shutters. Individual shutters may then be addressed and closed electronically. NIRSpec is also capable of Fixed-slit and Integral-field spectroscopy and provides medium-resolution spectroscopy over a wavelength range of 1 - 5 µm and lower-resolution spectroscopy from 0.6 - 5 µm. NIRSpec will address all of the four main JWST science themes, and much more. It will enable large spectroscopic surveys of faint galaxies at high redshift, obtain sensitive spectra of transiting exoplanets and image line emission from protoplanetary disks and protostars. NIRSpec is being built for the European Space Agency (ESA) by the Airbus Group with Dr. Pierre Ferruit guiding its development as the ESA JWST Project Scientist. Peter Jakobsen, the NIRSpec Instrument PI, retired in December 2011.
  • Backplane Arrives at
    MSFC for Testing
    2015.02.11
    A major piece of the James Webb Space Telescope, the mirror's primary backplane support, arrived Aug. 22 2014 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for testing in the X-ray and Cryogenic Test Facility. The backplane is the backbone of the telescope, supporting its 18 beryllium mirrors, instruments and other elements while the telescope is looking into deep space.
  • NIRSpec Instrument Cover
    Removed B-roll
    2015.02.10
    The Webb Telescope's Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRSpec) has it's protective cover removed in preparation for surgery. Airbus engineers prep the European Space Agency instrument for an upgrade of its Micro Shutter Array (MSA) and its Focal Plane Assembly (FPA). The NIRSpec instrument is Webb Telescope’s primary spectrograph. This instrument will reveal the physical and chemical properties of objects Webb images. NIRSpec's Micro Shutter Array is a new technology developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for the Webb Telescope mission. The MSA consists of more than 62,000 microscopic doors. These doors can be manipulated to allow light from select sources to reach the detector. This system enables astrophysicists to collect information from 100 objects simultaneously, greatly increasing Webb’s science gathering power. NIRSpec will be the first spectrograph in space that has this capability.
  • Backplane Cryo Testing at MSFC
    2015.02.18
    The primary mirror backplane support structure of the James Webb Space Telescope completed a rigorous testing regime inside the X-Ray and Cryogenic Test Facility at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The structure is essentially the spine of the massive telescope and is the final component to undergo testing at the facility.
  • NIRCam Removal From ISIM Structure
    2015.02.18
    James Webb Space Telescope's NIRCam gets removed from the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) is Webb's primary imager that will cover the infrared wavelength range 0.6 to 5 microns.
  • NIRSpec
    Microshutters Assembly Unit
    Gets Replaced
    2015.02.13
    The installation of equipment into the James Webb Space Telescope requires patience and precision. To prepare for the installation of the actual flight equipment and ensure perfection in the installations, scientists need to practice with an identical test unit. Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. are currently rehearsing with the placement of the Webb's Microshutter Array into the NIRSpec. The microshutters are a new technology that was developed for the Webb telescope mission. The microshutter device is a key component Webb's Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec). NIRSpec is a powerful instrument that will record the spectra of light from distant objects. The microshutter device only lets light in from selected objects to shine through NIRSpec.
  • MIRI Instrument Install
    Time Lapse
    2014.02.18
    Time lapse sequence of engineers as they work to meticulously to implant the James Webb Space Telescope's Mid-Infrared Instrument into the ISIM, or Integrated Science Instrument Module, in the cleanroom at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. As the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the Webb telescope will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. It will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the first galaxies formed and see unexplored planets around distant stars.
  • NIRSPec Microshutters Moved
    for Testing B-roll
    2014.06.23
    A new Microshutter Array for the Webb Telescope's Near Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSpec) is packed and transported by hand one building away at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to undergo thermal cycling testing and checkouts at it operational temperature of 35 kelvin or -397 Fahrenheit.
  • The NIRSpec Instrument is Prepped for Micro-Shutter Array and Focal Plane Assembly Replacement
    2015.07.20
    Engineers from Airbus and the European Space Agency (ESA) work inside NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s large clean room to remove the cover on Webb Telescope’s Near InfraRed Spectrometer (NIRSpec) instrument in preparation for the replacement of the Micro Shutter Array (MSA) and the Focal Plane Assembly (FPA)
  • Webb Telescope’s Secondary Mirror Support Structure and Secondary Mirror is Stowed in Preparation for Being Loaded into the Shipping Container for Transport to the Johnson Space Center for Testing
    2015.07.20
    Engineers work in the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s cleanroom to stow the Webb Telescope’s Backplane Pathfinder and its Secondary Mirror Support Structure in preprartion for placing it into a large shipping container and transported to the NASA Johnson Space Center for cryogenic testing.

Structure & Component B-roll

  • JWST Pathfinder Prepped for Cryo Testing in Chamber A
    2015.06.03
    Inside NASA's giant thermal vacuum chamber, called Chamber A, at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, the James Webb Space Telescope's Pathfinder backplane test model, is being prepared for its cryogenic test. Previously used for manned spaceflight missions, this historic chamber is now filled with engineers and technicians preparing for a crucial test.
  • JWST Arm Over-Deploy at GSFC
    2015.06.03
    Setting up NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's secondary mirror in space will require special arms that resemble a tripod. The secondary mirror support structure will unfurl in space to about 8 meters (26.2 feet) long once it is deployed. Engineers inside the world's largest clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland worked on the engineering test unit or "Pathfinder," for the James Webb Space Telescope. Webb’s Pathfinder acts as a spine supporting the telescope primary mirror segments. The Pathfinder is a non-flight prototype. To install the mirrors onto the center structure, the pathfinder must be first be over-deployed, that means engineers must secure two of the struts against the wall so they have plenty of room to work.
  • ISIM Completes Cryo Test
    2010.10.01
    A video snap shot showing JWST's Integrated Science Instrumnet Module (ISIM) structure inside Goddard's Space Environment Simulator after it completed cryogenic testing. The snap shot also shows engineers removing the ISIM and returning it to the clean room.
  • JSC Chamber A b-roll
    2012.12.10
    B-roll selects of Chamber A at the Johnson Space Center. Chamber A is the worlds largest space environment test chamber, and is the only facility of it's type large enough to test the James Webb Space Telescope.
  • COCOA B-roll
    2012.11.20
    The Center Of Curvature Optical Assembly (COCOA) will allow the program to verify the optical performance of the 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) primary mirror at its 40 degrees Kelvin (-233 Celsius) operating temperature. The COCOA contains mechanical and optical instruments that allow the test team to identify, align and test the 18-segments from outside the vacuum chamber.
  • Space Environment Simulator
    Time Lapse
    2013.11.07
    Time Lapse of NASA GSFC Space Environment Simulator (SES) opening and closing
  • ISIM into SES
    for second cryo test
    2013.11.07
    Webb Telescope's heart, the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) along with two science instrumnets mounted on to it, the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) and Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), is placed into the Space Environment Simulator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for cryogenic testing.
  • Primary Mirror Assembly
    and Intergration Fixture B-roll
    2013.03.08
    Engineers at the Goddard Space Flight Center test the robotic-like fixture that will place the primary mirror segments of the Webb Telescope onto the telescopes back plane.
  • Explore NASA Goddard's Clean Room with Laura Betz
    2015.02.18
    Science Writer Laura Betz takes us behind the scenes inside the world's largest clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland. Explore where Hubble was built and where its successor the James Webb Space Telescope is being assembled today. See the special gowning process engineers go through on a daily basis to enter this super clean environment. This tour gives you a 360 look from the unique filter wall to the storage of Webb's 18 gold plated mirrors. Check out Goddard's Space Environment Simulator, a massive thermal vacuum chamber where scientists and engineers cryo-tested the heart of the telescope, ISIM, by lowering the temperature of the structure to 42 Kelvin (-384.1 Fahrenheit or -231.1 Celsius) and below to ensure that it can withstand the frigid temperatures Webb will face one million miles out in space.
  • Pathfinder Arrives at MSFC for Cryogenic Testing B-roll
    2015.02.13
    The James Webb Space Telescope's pathfinder backplane arrives at Marshall Space Flight Center on Sept 18, 2013 for cryogenic testng. The backplane is the "spine" of the telescope and it supports mirror segments. This test item was sent from Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, CA to NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, MD. It first flew on a C-5 aircraft and then was driven by truck to Goddard.
  • Backplane Cryo Testing at MSFC
    2015.02.18
    The primary mirror backplane support structure of the James Webb Space Telescope completed a rigorous testing regime inside the X-Ray and Cryogenic Test Facility at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The structure is essentially the spine of the massive telescope and is the final component to undergo testing at the facility.
  • Backplane Pathfinder Arrives
    at NASA JSC for Cryotesting
    2015.02.20
    Webb Telescope's Backplane Pathfinder arrives at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston. Engineers will test Pathfinder inside NASA's largest cryogenic vacuum chamber called Chamber A. NASA engineers off-load pathfinder and its shipping container from a US Airforce C-5 cargo plane and tranport it to the Johnson Space Center and into Chamber A's cleanroom.
  • Webb Telescope’s Backplane Pathfinder Goes Into Chamber A for Cryotesting
    2015.07.20
    Engineers move the Webb Telescope’s Backplane Pathfinder (a flight-like model of the center section of the Webb telescope backplane used to practice assembly and integration before the flight hardware is done) into the huge vacuum and cryogenic test chamber at the NASA Johnson Space Center called Chamber A. This operation tests the facility, procedures and materials in preparation for testing Webb’s flight Backplane.
  • Webb Telescope’s ISIM Structure Undergoes Vibration Testing
    2015.07.20
    The Webb Telescope’s Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) with all four science instruments mounted to it, undergoes vibration testing at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. This test simulates the vibrations it will encounter during launch on an Arian V rocket.

Section 8

  • Full Scale Model Construction
    in Battery Park, NY
    2010.06.08
    The full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope is constructed for the 2010 World Science Festival in Battery Park, NY. The model takes about five days to construct. This video contains a time-lapse sequence of the construction process.

Section 9

  • Webb Telescope Mission
    Movie Trailer
    2010.02.10
    The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. Launch is planned for 2018.

    The Webb Telescope 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.

    Formerly known as the "Next Generation Space Telescope" (NGST) and considered the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the telescope was renamed in Sept. 2002 after former NASA administrator, James Webb.

    For more information about the Webb Telescope go to: http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/.

  • Planetary Studies
    Webb Science Feature
    2010.11.03
    The Webb Space Telescope will study planetary bodies with our solar system and planets orbiting other stars to help scientists better understand how planets form and how they evolve.
  • Evolution of the Universe
    Webb Science Feature
    2010.11.01
    Astrophyscists and astonomers will use the James Webb Space Telescope to unravel mysteries about the evolution of the Universe. The Webb telscope will help observe how the first stars gathered into the first galaxies, and those first galaxies collided and merged into larger galaxies and evolved into the Universe we see today.
  • Planetary Evolution
    Webb Science Feature
    2010.10.28
    A fully produced video about planetary evolution and how the Webb Telelscope's ability to see inside dense clouds of gas and dust will help us better understand solar system formation and evolution.
  • Colliding Galaxies
    Webb Science Feature
    2010.10.28
    Deep surveys by the James Webb Space Telescope will capture the full panorama of galaxy evolution, from the earliest dwarf galaxies that formed to the familiar galaxies we see today. The Webb Telescope will help us understand how the shape, structure and chemical content of galaxies change over the sweep of cosmic history.
  • Galaxy Evolution
    Webb Science Feature
    2010.11.01
    Astrophysicists and astronomers will use the James Webb Space Telescope to see further than Hubble to witness the origin and development of galaxies.
  • Webb Mirror Testing at Marshall
    2010.10.01
    A video snap shot of Webb's primary mirror segment testing at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
  • NASA Completes Mirror
    Polishing
    2011.06.29
    Completion of Webb Telescope mirror polishing represents a major mission milestone. All of the mirrors that will fly aboard NASA's James Webb Space Telescope have been polished so the observatory can see objects as far away as the first galaxies in the universe. The mirrors were polished at Tinsley Laboratories Inc. in Richmond, Calif. to accuracies of less than one millionth of an inch. This accuracy is important for forming the sharpest images when the mirrors cool to -400 degrees farenheit (-240 degrees celsius) in the cold of space.
  • NIRCamETU Arrives
    at Goddard
    2010.10.01
    A video snap shot showing the arrival of JWST Near Infrared Camera Engineering Test Unit arrival at the Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • Fine Guidance Sensor ETU
    Arrives at Goddard
    2010.10.01
    A video snap shot showing the arrival and unpacking of the JWST Fine Guidance Sensor Engineering Test Unit at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • FGS and NIRISS integrated
    into ISIM Time Lapse
    2013.03.11
    Time Lapse of FGS/NIRISS Installation into the ISIM Structure on February 28, 2013 in the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center clean room.

    NASA and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) engineers install the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) / Near-InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) instrument package onto the Webb Telescope's Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM). The FGS/NIRISS was built by the Canadian Space Agency and delivered to NASA Goddard in July of 2012.

    The Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) allows Webb to point precisely, so that it can obtain high-quality images. The Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph part of the FGS/NIRISS will be used to investigate the following science objectives: first light detection, exoplanet detection and characterization, and exoplanet transit spectroscopy. It has a wavelength range of 0.8 to 5.0 microns, and is a specialized instrument with three main modes, each of which addresses a separate wavelength range.

  • Assembly Arm Test
    2013.03.08
    Engineers at the Goddard Space Flight Center test the robotic-like fixture that will place the primary mirror segments of the Webb Telescope onto the telescopes back plane.
  • Chamber A
    Readies for Webb
    2013.01.25
    When the next-generation space telescope was being designed, engineers had to ensure there was a place large enough to test it, considering it's as big as a tennis court. That honor fell upon the famous "Chamber A" in the thermal-vacuum test facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

    NASA's "Chamber A" thermal vacuum testing chamber famous for being used during Apollo missions has now been upgraded and remodeled to accommodate testing the James Webb Space Telescope.

    Chamber A is now the largest high-vacuum, cryogenic-optical test chamber in the world, and made famous for testing the space capsules for NASA's Apollo mission, with and without the mission crew.

    For three years, NASA Johnson engineers have been building and remodeling the chamber interior for the temperature needed to test the Webb. Testing will confirm the telescope and science instrument systems will perform properly together in the cold temperatures of space. Additional test support equipment includes mass spectrometers, infrared cameras and television cameras so engineers can keep an eye on the Webb while it's being tested.

  • Secondary Mirror
    Arrival at NASA GSFC
    2012.11.20
    James Webb Space Telescope's Secondary Mirror, along with a Primary Mirror segment arrives at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Nov. 5, 2012.
  • ISIM Completes First
    Cryo Test
    2010.10.01
    A video snap shot showing JWST's Integrated Science Instrumnet Module (ISIM) structure inside Goddard's Space Environment Simulator after it completed cryogenic testing. The snap shot also shows engineers removing the ISIM and returning it to the clean room.
  • John Mather Lecture
    2009.10.27
    From the Big Bang to the Nobel Prize and on to the James Webb Space Telescope and the Discovery of Alien Life
  • COCOA Readies for
    Cryogenic Test
    2012.11.20
    The Center Of Curvature Optical Assembly (COCOA) will allow the program to verify the optical performance of the 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) primary mirror at its 40 degrees Kelvin (-233 Celsius) operating temperature. The COCOA contains mechanical and optical instruments that allow the test team to identify, align and test the 18-segments from outside the vacuum chamber.
  • Cal Poly Students Build
    Deployable Webb Model
    2013.09.27
    Engineering students from California Polytechnic Institute brought their Webb Telescope deployment model to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The students demonstrated this detailed, robotic version of Webb for the NASA team building the real thing. It’s a one – sixth scale model, and it performs the deployments the Webb Telescope will carry out before it begins science gathering.
  • NIRCam Instrument
    Arrives at GSFC
    2013.08.09
    The optical module of Webb Telescope's primary imager, the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) arrives at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Saturday, July 27, 2013.
  • NIRCam Integration
    Video Snap Shot
    2014.04.08
    Engineers install the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) into the Webb Telescope's Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center cleanroom. The delicate procedure took place on March 20, 2014 in preparation for the cryogenic test of a fully integrated ISIM structure that will occur this summer. The Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) is Webb's primary imager that will cover the infrared wavelength range 0.6 to 5 microns. NIRCam will detect light from: the earliest stars and galaxies in the process of formation; the population of stars in nearby galaxies; as well as young stars in the Milky Way and Kuiper Belt objects. NIRCam is equipped with coronagraphs, instruments that allow astronomers to take pictures of very faint objects around a central bright object, like stellar systems. NIRCam's coronagraphs work by blocking a brighter object's light, making it possible to view the dimmer object nearby - just like shielding the sun from your eyes with an upraised hand can allow you to focus on the view in front of you. With the coronagraphs, astronomers hope to determine the characteristics of planets orbiting nearby stars. The NIRCam instrument was built and designed by the University of Arizona and Lockheed Martin.
  • NIRSpec Integration
    Video Snap Shot
    2014.04.08
    Engineers install the Near Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSpec) onto the Webb Telescope's Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center cleanroom. This delicate procedure took place during March 24 and March 25, 2014 in preparation for the cryogenic test of a fully integrated ISIM structure to occur this summer. The Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) is a near infrared multi-object dispersive spectrograph capable of simultaneously observing more than 100 sources over a field-of-view (FOV) larger than 3' x 3'. The NIRSpec will be the first spectrograph in space that has this capability. Targets in the Field of View are normally selected by opening groups of shutters in a micro-shutter array (MSA) to form multiple apertures. The microshutters are arranged in a waffle-like grid that contains more than 62000 shutters with each cell measuring 100 µm x 200 µm. Sweeping a magnet across the surface of the MSA opens all operable shutters. Individual shutters may then be addressed and closed electronically. NIRSpec is also capable of Fixed-slit and Integral-field spectroscopy and provides medium-resolution spectroscopy over a wavelength range of 1 - 5 µm and lower-resolution spectroscopy from 0.6 - 5 µm. NIRSpec will address all of the four main JWST science themes, and much more. It will enable large spectroscopic surveys of faint galaxies at high redshift, obtain sensitive spectra of transiting exoplanets and image line emission from protoplanetary disks and protostars. NIRSpec is being built for the European Space Agency (ESA) by the Airbus Group with Dr. Pierre Ferruit guiding its development as the ESA JWST Project Scientist. Peter Jakobsen, the NIRSpec Instrument PI, retired in December 2011.
  • Microshutters Moved
    for Testing
    2014.06.23
    A new Microshutter Array for the Webb Telescope's Near Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSpec) is packed and transported by hand one building away at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to undergo thermal cycling testing and checkouts at it operational temperature of 35 kelvin or -397 Fahrenheit.
  • ISIM moves for 2nd Cryogenic Test
    2014.06.16
    Engineers move the heart of the Webb Telescope holding all four science instruments out of the clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and into the huge Space Environment Simulator for several months of testing at temperatures reaching 20 Kelvin or -425 Fahrenheit.

Section 10

  • Sunshield Deploy Test
    Time Lapse
    2014.04.15
    Engineers at Northrop Grumman deploy one side of a 5-layer sunshield engineering test article as a proof of concept test for the Webb Telescope's sunshield.
  • JWST Backplane Arrives at Goddard Time Lapse
    2015.02.11
    Time lapse of James Webb Space Telescope's Pathfinder mirror backplane arriving at Goddard Space Flight Center for critical assembly testing. Webb's backplane is the large structure which holds and supports the big hexagonal mirrors of the telescope. The backplane has an important job as it must support the weight of the 21-foot (6.5 m) diameter mirror, but it also will be carrying 7,500 lbs (2400 kg) of telescope optics and instruments.
  • JWST's Pathfinder Backplane Deployment Time Lapse
    2015.02.18
    This time-lapse video by Northrop Grumman shows part of the pathfinder (test) backplane. Attached to this center section of the backplane are the secondary mirror booms. The telescope's secondary mirror will sit at the end of these booms. Because the telescope is folded for launch, the booms must deploy afterwards. This video shows one of the tests of the deployment of the booms.
  • JWST's Sunshield Full Deploy Test Time Lapse
    2015.02.13
    A major test of the sunshield for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope was conducted in July 2014 by Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif. For the first time, the five sunshield test layers were unfolded and separated; unveiling important insights for the engineers and technicians as to how the deployment will take place when the telescope launches into space. The sunshield will allow the telescope to cool down to a temperature below 50 Kelvin (equal to -370 degree F, or -223 degree C) by passively radiating its heat into space.