PROJECT SITE:

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Official site of the design, build, test and launch of JWST.

SCIENCE SITE:

webbtelescope.org

JWST Science overview, future home of science data and images.

NASA HQ SITE:

www.nasa.gov/jwst

Overview of the spacecraft, mission and science of JWST.

JWST related content on the NASA HOME PAGE plus links to NASA’s other great activities and missions.

MISSIONS:

JWST related Missions.

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Vital Statistics

The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST) is an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity. The longer wavelengths enable the Webb telescope to look much closer to the beginning of time and to hunt for the unobserved formation of the first galaxies, as well as to look inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today.

Proposed Launch Date: The project is working to a 2018 launch date.
Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5 ECA
Mission Duration 5 - 10 years
Total payload mass: Approx 6200 kg, including observatory, on-orbit consumables and launch vehicle adaptor.
Diameter of primary Mirror: ~6.5 m (21.3 ft)
Clear aperture of primary Mirror: 25 m2
Primary mirror material: beryllium
Mass of primary mirror: 705 kg
Mass of a single primary mirror segment: 20.1 kg for a single beryllium mirror, 39.48 kg for one entire primary mirror segment assembly (PMSA).
Focal length: 131.4 meters
Number of primary mirror segments: 18
Optical resolution: ~0.1 arc-seconds
Wavelength coverage: 0.6 - 28 microns
Size of sun shield: 21.197 m x 14.162 m (69.5 ft x 46.5 ft)
Orbit: 1.5 million km from Earth at L2 Point
Operating Temperature: under 50 K (-370 °F)
Gold coating: Thickness of gold coating = 100 x 10-9 meters (1000 angstroms). Surface area = 25 m2. Using these numbers plus the density of gold at room temperature (19.3 x 10-6 g/m3), the coating is calculated to use 48.25g of gold, about equal to a golf ball. (A golf ball has a mass of 45.9 grams.)

Mission Goals

  • Search for the first galaxies or luminous objects formed after the Big Bang.
  • Determine how galaxies evolved from their formation until now
  • Observe the formation of stars from the first stages to the formation of planetary systems
  • Measure the physical and chemical properties of planetary systems and investigate the potential for life in those systems

Instruments

  • Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam)
  • Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec)
  • Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI)
  • Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS)

Major Innovations

  • Lightweight optics
  • Deployable sunshield
  • Folding segmented mirror
  • Improved Detectors
  • Cryogenic actuators & mirror control
  • Micro-shutters