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  • richardmitnick 10:11 am on August 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , GTO-Guaranteed Time Observations, NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From Hubble: ” Icy Moons, Galaxy Clusters, and Distant Worlds Among Selected Targets for James Webb Space Telescope” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Jun 15, 2017 [This just appeared in social media]

    Christine Pulliam
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4366
    cpulliam@stsci.edu

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    Felicia Chou
    NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
    202-358-0257
    felicia.chou@nasa.gov

    Natasha Pinol
    NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
    202-358-0930
    natasha.r.pinol@nasa.gov

    1
    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb

    Prologue

    Webb Telescope Guaranteed Time Observations Targets Announced

    Mission officials for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope announced some of the science targets the telescope will observe following its launch and commissioning. These specific observations are part of a program of Guaranteed Time Observations (GTO), which provides dedicated time to the scientists that helped design and build the telescope’s four instruments. The broad spectrum of initial GTO observations will address all of the science areas Webb is designed to explore, from first light and the assembly of galaxies to the birth of stars and planets. Targets will range from the solar system’s outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and icy Kuiper Belt to exoplanets to distant galaxies in the young universe.

    The Full Story

    Mission officials for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope announced some of the science targets the telescope will observe following its launch and commissioning. These specific observations are part of a program of Guaranteed Time Observations (GTO), which provides dedicated time to the scientists that helped design and build the telescope’s four instruments.

    “From the very first galaxies after the Big Bang, to searching for chemical fingerprints of life on Enceladus, Europa, and exoplanets like TRAPPIST-1e, Webb will be looking at some incredible things in our universe,” said Eric Smith, James Webb Space Telescope Director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “With over 2,100 initial observations planned, there is no limit to what we might discover with this incredible telescope.”

    The broad spectrum of initial GTO observations will address all of the science areas Webb is designed to explore, from first light and the assembly of galaxies to the birth of stars and planets. Targets will range from the solar system’s outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and icy Kuiper Belt to exoplanets to distant galaxies in the young universe.

    “The definition of observations to be conducted by the Webb Guaranteed Time Observers is a major milestone along the timeline for producing revolutionary science with this incredibly powerful observatory. These observations by the teams of people who designed and built the Webb instruments will yield not only amazing science, but will be crucial in putting the observatory through its paces and understanding its many capabilities,” said Dr. Ken Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which will lead science and mission operations for Webb.

    “I am very pleased that we’re at this point since it is now possible for the broader science community to begin selecting targets and designing observations for the Early Release Science program and the Cycle 1 call for proposals, which will be issued this fall,” he added.

    Observing time on Webb is scheduled in a series of cycles. Cycle 1 will encompass about 8,700 hours, or nearly a year. For their dedicated work on the project, the Guaranteed Time Observers were awarded 10 percent of the total JWST observing time in the prime mission. To maximize the overall Webb scientific return, the GTO projects will be scheduled earlier in the mission, and are expected to be completed within the first two years of telescope operations.

    The observations announced today will help the broader scientific community plan their proposals for observations to be made during Cycle 1. A call for proposals for regular Cycle 1 observations will be issued later this year.

    Webb is designed to complement and extend the scientific capabilities of other NASA missions such as the Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency). The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland will conduct Webb science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington, D.C.

    [First, Webb’s launch as been delayed by the need to launch BepiColumbo is a critical time period. https://sciencesprings.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/from-spaceflight-insider-james-webb-space-telescope-may-be-delayed-again/ .

    Second. no one really knows what will happen when Webb is launched. The planning and testing might be the longest and most arduous for any spacecraft. But is has all been done on the ground by the builders and NASA.]

    See the full article here .

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 12:55 pm on August 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “James Webb Space Telescope may be delayed again” 

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    Spaceflight Insider

    August 5th, 2017
    Joe Latrell

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    The much delayed and over budget next-generation James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has suffered another setback prior to its journey to the launch pad: the October 2018 launch may be in conflict with Europe’s BepiColombo mission to Mercury. Both spacecraft are to be flown on Ariane 5 boosters, but the spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana, cannot support two flights in the same month. BepiColombo has priority due to the tight launch window to reach Mercury. This will result in the JWST having its launch date pushed back to 2019 at the earliest.

    The James Webb Space Telescope

    The JWST is a space-based infrared telescope. To operate properly, it needs to maintain a temperature of 37 kelvins (–236 °C / –393 °F). In order to achieve this when in space, the telescope relies on a large tennis court sized sunshield to protect it from external heat and light sources, such as the Sun as well as the Earth and Moon.

    Light gathered from the segmented 6.5-meter (21-foot) diameter mirror is directed to the four science instruments: Fine Guidance Sensor / Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS), Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), Near InfraRed Camera (NIRCam), and Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRSpec). Due to the requirement of the MIRI to operate at an even lower temperature than the other science instruments, it will utilize a cryocooler to decrease its temperature to less than 7 kelvins (–266 °C / –447 °F).

    While smaller than telescopes here on Earth, the JWST is the most powerful space telescope ever constructed and is the science successor to the Hubble telescope.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Originally projected to cost $1.6 billion, the telescope’s price tag has ballooned to over $8.8 billion. Several factors, from delays in choosing a launch vehicle to management issues, contributed to the soaring costs. Additionally, the vehicle proved harder to construct than originally envisioned. For example, during vibration testing, the spacecraft experienced several anomalies that required NASA engineers to stop the test. After analysis and modifications, the tests resumed and the JWST was given a clean bill of health.

    Despite the technical issues and threats of cancellation, the project continued and the cost estimates grew. A launch delay into 2019 will only add to that dollar figure.

    The BepiColombo mission

    ESA/JAXA BepiColombo


    ESA/JAXA Elements of the BepiColombo Mercury Composite Spacecraft. From left to right: Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), Magnetospheric Orbiter Sunshield and Interface Structure (MOSIF), and Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO).

    BepiColombo is a mission to explore the planet Mercury that is being conducted by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The mission is actually two spacecraft: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The objective is a comprehensive study of Mercury, including the planet’s surface, magnetic field, and interior structure.

    The MPO is a solar-powered spacecraft carrying 11 scientific instruments. These instruments include laser altimeters, spectrometers, magnetometers, as well as several cameras. It has a mass of 1,150 kilograms (2,540 pounds) and is capable of producing 1,000 watts of power for onboard instruments.

    The MMO has a mass of 285 kilograms (628 pounds) and carries five scientific payloads. Built mostly by Japan, this spacecraft will study plasma particles including high-energy ions and electrons emanating from the planet. A third spacecraft, the Mercury Surface Element (MSE), a small lander craft, was removed due to budgetary issues.

    The two Mercury spacecraft are scheduled to arrive at the planet in 2025 after performing numerous flybys: one at Earth, two at Venus, and six at Mercury. The craft must launch sometime between October 5, 2018, and November 28, 2018, to reach the planet as scheduled.

    Both missions as slated to fly on the Ariane 5 booster. The 52-meter (171-foot) vehicle is capable of lifting over 10,500 kilograms (23,100 pounds) to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

    JWST chills in Chamber A

    Currently, the JWST is undergoing low-temperature checks at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Chamber A. The temperature of the chamber is steadily being reduced to approximately 20 kelvins (–253 °C / –424 °F) – the same temperature that the JWST will be when operating in space. These tests will validate that the JWST instruments can operate properly at the extremely low temperatures.

    Unlike Hubble, the JWST will be positioned at the Earth-Sun Lagrange point (L2) which is 1,500,000 kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth. That location is currently beyond NASA’s manned space capabilities; therefore, precluding the JWST from being serviced on orbit.

    LaGrange Points map. NASA

    See the full article here .

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    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:55 pm on July 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ESA European Space Agency, MIRI on Webb, NASA/ESA/CSA Webb, STFC RAL Space,   

    From STFC: “Recipe for success – the next steps for MIRI” 


    STFC

    14 July 2017
    Contacts
    Sarah-Jane Smart
    sarah.smart@stfc.ac.uk
    Communications Lead JWST MIRI EC for STFC
    Mob: +(44) (0) 7837 634683

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    The installation of MIRI into the instrument module.(Credit: NASA.)

    Testing is heating up for the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), the coldest instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The advanced cooler for the instrument (its own refrigerator) is currently undergoing performance testing at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.

    MIRI is one of the key instruments currently being built for NASA’s JWST, which, once it is launched in 2018, 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.

    The cooler is very complex and needs components spread throughout the huge telescope to help reduce the temperature of the instrument to a super cold -267degC. The current tests at JPL are using a spare cooler and a prototype MIRI; this was specially adapted by the European MIRI team, including STFC RAL Space, to get a better understanding of how all these components behave when connected together.

    Engineers from STFC form part of the test team at JPL who are putting the cooler system through its paces to see how it functions.

    The MIRI Lead Thermal Engineer at STFC, Bryan Shaughnessy said “We’re calling this an end-to-end test. It is a little like perfecting a recipe. We have the ingredients and the techniques and, with a little knowhow and tweaking, we will get the perfect dish. These tests will fine-tune the operational parameters of MIRI.”

    Links

    STFC MIRI page
    NASA JWST Home page

    MIRI

    MIRI is an infrared camera and spectrometer and will operate between wavelengths of 5 to 27 microns, a region which is difficult to observe from the ground. The instrument has several unique advantages; its location in space will remove the blocking and large background noise effects of the atmosphere which limit ground-based telescopes. JWST can be cooled to a very low temperature; this reduces the emission from the telescope and therefore greatly improves its sensitivity. JWST will have a much larger mirror than any other infrared space telescope, giving improved angular resolution.

    MIRI has been put through its paces with a series of rigorous environmental test campaigns designed to verify performance and functionality and is now undergoing final testing. at Johnson Space Centre in Houston. The UK team and teams from both the US and Europe travel out at different times to work on shifts with the NASA team and the other JWST Science Instrument teams.

    STFC RAL Space

    STFC RAL Space are responsible for the functional testing of MIRI, these are carried out every time the mission completes a test cycle to ensure that MIRI is still working correctly. RAL Space are responsible for the overall thermal design of MIRI and provide support to the test team during cold tests.

    RAL Space based at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), carries out an exciting range of world-class space research and technology development. We have significant involvement in over 210 space missions and are at the forefront of UK Space Research. We undertake world-leading space research and technology development, provide space test and ground-based facilities, design and build instruments, analyse and process data and operate S- and X-band ground-station facilities, as well as lead conceptual studies for future missions. We work with space and ground-based groups around the world.

    UK Space Agency

    The UK Space Agency is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and benefit from space. It is responsible for all strategic decisions on the UK civil space programme and provides a clear, single voice for UK space ambitions.

    About the European Space Agency


    The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space and is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

    See the full article here .

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    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:08 pm on July 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From Webb: “Birth of Stars & Protoplanetary Systems” 

    NASA Webb Header

    NASA Webb Telescope

    James Webb Space Telescope

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    The Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula captured in visible light by Hubble. Stellar nurseries are hidden within the towers of dust and gas. Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)/J. Hester, P. Scowen (Arizona State U.)

    Inside the Pillars of Creation

    While this image is spectacular, there are actually stars that Hubble can’t see inside those pillars of dust. And that’s because the visible light emitted by those stars is being obscured by the dust. But what if we used a telescope sensitive to infrared light to look at this nebula?

    The next image is another Hubble view, but this time in near-infrared. In the infrared more structure within the dust clouds is revealed and hidden stars have now become apparent. (And if Hubble, which is optimized for visible light, can capture a near-infrared image like this, imagine what JWST, which is optimized for near-infrared and 100x more powerful than Hubble, will do!)

    Another nebula, the “Mystic Mountains” of the Carina Nebula, shown in two Hubble images, one in visible light (left) and one in infrared (right).
    In the infrared image, we can see more stars that just weren’t visible before. Why is this?

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    The Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula captured in infrared light by Hubble. The light from young stars being formed pierce the clouds of dust and gas in the infrared. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

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    Comparison of the Carina Nebula in visible light (left) and infrared (left), both images by Hubble. Credit: NASA/ESA/M. Livio & Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

    How Do Infrared Cameras Work?

    We can try a thought experiment. What if you were to put your arm into a garbage bag? Your arm is hidden. Invisible.

    But what if you looked at your arm and the garbage bag with an infrared camera? Remember that infrared light is essentially heat. And that while your eyes may not be able to pick up the warmth of your arm underneath the cooler plastic of the bag, an infrared camera can. An infrared camera can see right through the bag!

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    ALMA image of the young star HL Tau and its protoplanetary disk. This best image ever of planet formation reveals multiple rings and gaps that herald the presence of emerging planets as they sweep their orbits clear of dust and gas. Credit: ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ); C. Brogan, B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    The Dusty Cocoons of Star and Planet Formation

    JWST’s amazing imaging and spectroscopy capabilities will allow us to study stars as they are forming in their dusty cocoons. Additionally, it will be able to image disks of heated material around these young stars, which can indicate the beginnings of planetary systems, and study organic molecules that are important for life to develop.

    _________________________________________________________________
    Key Questions

    JWST will address several key questions to help us unravel the story of the star and planet formation:

    How do clouds of gas and dust collapse to form stars?
    Why do most stars form in groups?
    Exactly how do planetary systems form?
    How do stars evolve and release the heavy elements they produce back into space for recycling into new generations of stars and planets?

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    Infrared Spitzer image of a star-forming region. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

    NASA/Spitzer Telescope

    JWST’s Role in Answering These Questions

    To unravel the birth and early evolution of stars and planets, we need to be able to peer into the hearts of dense and dusty cloud cores where star formation begins. These regions cannot be observed at visible light wavelengths as the dust would make such regions opaque and must be observed at infrared wavelengths.

    Stars, like our Sun, can be thought of as “basic particles” of the Universe, just as atoms are “basic particles” of matter. Groups of stars make up galaxies, while planets and ultimately life arise around stars. Although stars have been the main topic of astronomy for thousands of years, we have begun to understand them in detail only in recent times through the advent of powerful telescopes and computers.

    A hundred years ago, scientists did not know that stars are powered by nuclear fusion, and 50 years ago they did not know that stars are continually forming in the Universe. Researchers still do not know the details of how clouds of gas and dust collapse to form stars, or why most stars form in groups, or exactly how planetary systems form. Young stars within a star-forming region interact with each other in complex ways. The details of how they evolve and release the heavy elements they produce back into space for recycling into new generations of stars and planets remains to be determined through a combination of observation and theory.

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    The stages of solar system formation. Credit: Shu et al. 1987

    The stages of solar system formation are illustrated to the right: starting with a protostar embedded in a gas cloud (upper left of diagram), to an early star with a circumstellar disk (upper right), to a star surrounded by small “planetesimals” which are starting to clump together (lower left) to a solar system like ours today.

    The continual discovery of new and unusual planetary systems has made scientists re-think their ideas and theories about how planets are formed. Scientists realize that to get a better understanding of how planets form, they need to have more observations of planets around young stars, and more observations of leftover debris around stars, which can come together and form planets.

    _________________________________________________________________

    Related Content
    More Comparison Images

    Here’s is another stunning comparison of visible versus infrared light views of the same object – the gorgeous Horsehead Nebula:

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    The Horsehead Nebula in visible light, captured by the Canada-France Hawaii Telescope. Credit: NASA

    Visible Light Horsehead Nebula


    CFHT Telescope, Maunakea, Hawaii, USA

    Infrared Light Horsehead Nebula

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    The Horsehead Nebula in infrared light, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Related Video

    This video shows how JWST will peer inside dusty knots where the youngest stars and planets are forming.

    See the full article here .

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    The James Webb Space Telescope will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. Launch is planned for later in the decade.

    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.

    Webb telescope was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in Sept. 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.

    Webb is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate Webb after launch.

    Several innovative technologies have been developed for Webb. These include a folding, segmented primary mirror, adjusted to shape after launch; ultra-lightweight beryllium optics; detectors able to record extremely weak signals, microshutters that enable programmable object selection for the spectrograph; and a cryocooler for cooling the mid-IR detectors to 7K.

    There will be four science instruments on Webb: the Near InfraRed Camera (NIRCam), the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRspec), the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), and the Fine Guidance Sensor/ Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS). Webb’s instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. It will be sensitive to light from 0.6 to 28 micrometers in wavelength.
    Webb has four main science themes: The End of the Dark Ages: First Light and Reionization, The Assembly of Galaxies, The Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems, and Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life.

    Launch is scheduled for later in the decade on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch will be from Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at European Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. Webb will be located at the second Lagrange point, about a million miles from the Earth.

    NASA image

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    Canadian Space Agency

     
  • richardmitnick 11:43 am on July 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Cryogenic-temperature testing, , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From ESA: Webb “Ready for testing” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    1

    The James Webb Space Telescope is prepared for cryogenic-temperature testing in Chamber A at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas.

    Being a ‘cool’ telescope, JWST is designed to operate at very low temperatures (around -230° C). This will give us an unprecedented view of the Universe at near and mid-infrared wavelengths and will allow scientists to study a wide variety of celestial objects, ranging from planets in the Solar System to nearby stars, from neighbouring galaxies out to the farthest reaches of the very distant Universe.

    JWST is joint project of NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency, and is scheduled for launch in October 2018 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

    More about the cryogenic-temperature testing on NASA’s JWST website.

    More about JWST

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 3:55 pm on June 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A call for proposals for regular Cycle 1 observations will be issued later this year, , , , , Guaranteed Time Observations, Guaranteed Time Observers were awarded 10 percent of the total JWST observing time in the prime mission, , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From Hubble: “Icy Moons, Galaxy Clusters, and Distant Worlds Among Selected Targets for James Webb Space Telescope” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Jun 15, 2017

    Christine Pulliam
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4366
    cpulliam@stsci.edu

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    Felicia Chou
    NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
    202-358-0257
    felicia.chou@nasa.gov

    Natasha Pinol
    NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
    202-358-0930
    natasha.r.pinol@nasa.gov

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Mission officials for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope announced some of the science targets the telescope will observe following its launch and commissioning. These specific observations are part of a program of Guaranteed Time Observations (GTO), which provides dedicated time to the scientists that helped design and build the telescope’s four instruments.

    “From the very first galaxies after the Big Bang, to searching for chemical fingerprints of life on Enceladus, Europa, and exoplanets like TRAPPIST-1e, Webb will be looking at some incredible things in our universe,” said Eric Smith, James Webb Space Telescope Director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “With over 2,100 initial observations planned, there is no limit to what we might discover with this incredible telescope.”

    The broad spectrum of initial GTO observations will address all of the science areas Webb is designed to explore, from first light and the assembly of galaxies to the birth of stars and planets. Targets will range from the solar system’s outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and icy Kuiper Belt to exoplanets to distant galaxies in the young universe.

    “The definition of observations to be conducted by the Webb Guaranteed Time Observers is a major milestone along the timeline for producing revolutionary science with this incredibly powerful observatory. These observations by the teams of people who designed and built the Webb instruments will yield not only amazing science, but will be crucial in putting the observatory through its paces and understanding its many capabilities,” said Dr. Ken Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which will lead science and mission operations for Webb.

    “I am very pleased that we’re at this point since it is now possible for the broader science community to begin selecting targets and designing observations for the Early Release Science program and the Cycle 1 call for proposals, which will be issued this fall,” he added.

    Observing time on Webb is scheduled in a series of cycles. Cycle 1 will encompass about 8,700 hours, or nearly a year. For their dedicated work on the project, the Guaranteed Time Observers were awarded 10 percent of the total JWST observing time in the prime mission. To maximize the overall Webb scientific return, the GTO projects will be scheduled earlier in the mission, and are expected to be completed within the first two years of telescope operations.

    The observations announced today will help the broader scientific community plan their proposals for observations to be made during Cycle 1. A call for proposals for regular Cycle 1 observations will be issued later this year.

    Webb is designed to complement and extend the scientific capabilities of other NASA missions such as the Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency). The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland will conduct Webb science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington, D.C.

    See the full article here .

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 7:23 am on April 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , JWST lights out inspection, NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From ESA: “JWST lights out inspection” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    4.22.17

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    After completion of its vibration and acoustic testing in March, the James Webb Space Telescope – JWST – is shown here undergoing a detailed ‘lights out’ inspection in one of NASA’s cleanrooms at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

    This is a special type of visual inspection to check for any forms of contamination. Both bright white LEDs and UV lights are used in order to better search for possible contamination, with the lights inside the cleanroom switched off to improve the contrast.

    The low lighting means the image had to be taken with a longer than normal exposure time. This makes the technicians appear somewhat ghostly as they moved about the cleanroom during the exposure.

    The image shows the segmented and gold-coated primary mirror of the telescope, which has a diameter of about 6.5 m when unfolded. It consists of 18 hexagonal segments, which will work together as one gigantic state-of-the-art mirror.

    In order to fit inside the Ariane 5 rocket that will boost it into space, some segments will be folded, which will then open in orbit.

    By the end of April, the telescope and the instruments will be shipped from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland to Johnson’s Space Center in Texas where, over the course of the summer, it will go through final cryogenic-temperature testing.

    JWST is joint project of NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency, and is scheduled for launch in October 2018 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This image was first published on 15 March via the NASA JWST pages.
    Credits: NASA–C. Gunn

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 10:47 am on March 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , NASA Plans To Turn The Largest Object in Our Solar System into a Telescope, NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From Futurism: “NASA Plans To Turn The Largest Object in Our Solar System into a Telescope” 

    futurism-bloc

    Futurism

    3.19.17
    Chelsea Gohd

    A Solar Scope

    Each day we get closer to exploring farther reaches of our solar system and universe. We have come incredibly far and seem to make progress with each day. However, our ability to survey the outer corners of the cosmos is limited by our current telescopic technology. Now, modern telescopes are nothing to scoff at. As the iconic Hubble Telescope is phased out, the James Webb Space Telescope will continue to capture the beauty of outer space. But scientists have figured out a way to push the boundaries of telescopic technology even further: by turning the Sun (yes, that sun) into a telescope.


    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA


    Gravitational microlensing, S. Liebes, Physical Review B, 133 (1964): 835

    To use the sun as some sort of massive magnifying glass, scientists have deferred to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. According to the theory, large objects (like the Sun) bend the space around them, and so anything traveling in that space (even light) bends as well. In a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, if light is bent around an object in a particular way, it can magnify the space (quite literally, space) behind it.

    Scientists have previously used gravitational lensing to help telescopes to be more effective, but now, researchers aim to use this distribution of matter as a “telescope.” This new approach certainly has its pros and cons. In order to harness this lensing, the necessary instruments would need to approach pretty close to the sun, in order to reach a target 550 AU away. While humans and probes have traveled much closer to the sun than this, and plan to do so in the future, this difficult journey would take a long time and the equipment would have to be somehow “placed” into the middle of space.

    However, if this is pulled off, it would be a massive leap forward in imaging technology. We could finally get a closer, clearer look at Trappist-1, and would be that much closer to discovering life outside of Earth.

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    A target pixel file representing light levels captured by the Kepler space telescope. Image Credit: NASA Ames/G. Barentsen

    James Webb

    As mentioned previously, this “sun scope” is not the only highly advanced space-imaging technology that’s surfacing. The James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in October of 2018, will hopefully continue and advance the incredible work of the Hubble Telescope.


    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    In fact, this telescope is so powerful that Lee Feinberg, an engineer and James Webb Space Telescope Optical Telescope Element Manager at Goddard, was quoted as saying. “The Webb telescope is the most dynamically complicated article of space hardware that we’ve ever tested.”

    The technology that we use to capture the incredible images of space is improving every day. Modern telescopes will continue to advance, becoming more powerful, more precise, and more detailed. So, while the idea of a sun-based telescope is incredible and could yield unprecedented images and information, even if it doesn’t pan out, we will most certainly continue to find improved ways to look at the Universe.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Futurism covers the breakthrough technologies and scientific discoveries that will shape humanity’s future. Our mission is to empower our readers and drive the development of these transformative technologies towards maximizing human potential.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:50 pm on March 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb,   

    From Universe Today: “The James Webb Space Telescope” 

    universe-today

    Universe Today

    8 Mar , 2017
    Evan Gough

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    A full-scale model of the JWST went on a bit of a World Tour. Here it is in Munich, Germany. Image Credit: EADS Astrium


    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST, or the Webb) may be the most eagerly anticipated of the Super Telescopes. Maybe because it has endured a tortured path on its way to being built. Or maybe because it’s different than the other Super Telescopes, what with it being 1.5 million km (1 million miles) away from Earth once it’s operating.

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    The JWST will do its observing while in what’s called a halo orbit at L2, a sort of gravitationally neutral point 1.5 million km from Earth. Image: NASA/JWST


    LaGrange Points map. NASA

    If you’ve been following the drama behind the Webb, you’ll know that cost overruns almost caused it to be cancelled. That would’ve been a real shame.

    The JWST has been brewing since 1996, but has suffered some bumps along the road. That road and its bumps have been discussed elsewhere, so what follows is a brief rundown.

    Initial estimates for the JWST were a $1.6 billion price tag and a launch date of 2011. But the costs ballooned, and there were other problems. This caused the House of Representatives in the US to move to cancel the project in 2011. However, later that same year, US Congress reversed the cancellation. Eventually, the final cost of the Webb came to $8.8 billion, with a launch date set for October, 2018. That means the JWST’s first light will be much sooner than the other Super Telescopes.

    The Webb was envisioned as a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been in operation since 1990. But the Hubble is in Low Earth Orbit, and has a primary mirror of 2.4 meters. The JWST will be located in orbit at the LaGrange 2 point, and its primary mirror will be 6.5 meters. The Hubble observes in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectra, while the Webb will observe in long-wavelength (orange-red) visible light, through near-infrared to the mid-infrared. This has some important implications for the science yielded by the Webb.

    The Webb’s Instruments

    The James Webb is built around four instruments:

    The Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam)
    The Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec)
    The Mid-Infrared Instrument(MIRI)
    The Fine Guidance Sensor/ Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS)

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    This image shows the wavelengths of the infrared spectrum that Webb’s instruments can observe. Image: NASA/JWST

    The NIRCam is Webb’s primary imager. It will observe the formation of the earliest stars and galaxies, the population of stars in nearby galaxies, Kuiper Belt Objects, and young stars in the Milky Way. NIRCam is equipped with coronagraphs, which block out the light from bright objects in order to observe dimmer objects nearby.

    NIRSpec will operate in a range from 0 to 5 microns. Its spectrograph will split the light into a spectrum. The resulting spectrum tells us about an objects, temperature, mass, and chemical composition. NIRSpec will observe 100 objects at once.

    MIRI is a camera and a spectrograph. It will see the redshifted light of distant galaxies, newly forming stars, objects in the Kuiper Belt, and faint comets. MIRI’s camera will provide wide-field, broadband imaging that will rank up there with the astonishing images that Hubble has given us a steady diet of. The spectrograph will provide physical details of the distant objects it will observe.

    The Fine Guidance Sensor part of FGS/NIRISS will give the Webb the precision required to yield high-quality images. NIRISS is a specialized instrument operating in three modes. It will investigate first light detection, exoplanet detection and characterization, and exoplanet transit spectroscopy.

    The Science

    The over-arching goal of the JWST, along with many other telescopes, is to understand the Universe and our origins. The Webb will investigate four broad themes:

    First Light and Re-ionization: In the early stages of the Universe, there was no light. The Universe was opaque. Eventually, as it cooled, photons were able to travel more freely. Then, probably hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang, the first light sources formed: stars. But we don’t know when, or what types of stars.
    How Galaxies Assemble: We’re accustomed to seeing stunning images of the grand spiral galaxies that exist in the Universe today. But galaxies weren’t always like that. Early galaxies were often small and clumpy. How did they form into the shapes we see today?

    The Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems: The Webb’s keen eye will peer straight through clouds of dust that ‘scopes like the Hubble can’t see through. Those clouds of dust are where stars are forming, and their protoplanetary systems. What we see there will tell us a lot about the formation of our own Solar System, as well as shedding light on many other questions.

    Planets and the Origins of Life: We now know that exoplanets are common. We’ve found thousands of them orbiting all types of stars. But we still know very little about them, like how common atmospheres are, and if the building blocks of life are common.

    These are all obviously fascinating topics. But in our current times, one of them stands out among the others: Planets and the Origins of Life.

    The recent discovery the TRAPPIST 1 system has people excited about possibly discovering life in another solar system. TRAPPIST 1 has 7 terrestrial planets, and 3 of them are in the habitable zone. It was huge news in February 2017. The buzz is still palpable, and people are eagerly awaiting more news about the system. That’s where the JWST comes in.

    One big question around the TRAPPIST system is “Do the planets have atmospheres?” The Webb can help us answer this.

    The NIRSpec instrument on JWST will be able to detect any atmospheres around the planets. Maybe more importantly, it will be able to investigate the atmospheres, and tell us about their composition. We will know if the atmospheres, if they exist, contain greenhouse gases. The Webb may also detect chemicals like ozone and methane, which are biosignatures and can tell us if life might be present on those planets.

    You could say that if the James Webb were able to detect atmospheres on the TRAPPIST 1 planets, and confirm the existence of biosignature chemicals there, it will have done its job already. Even if it stopped working after that. That’s probably far-fetched. But still, the possibility is there.

    Launch and Deployment

    The science that the JWST will provide is extremely intriguing. But we’re not there yet. There’s still the matter of JWST’s launch, and it’s tricky deployment.

    The JWST’s primary mirror is much larger than the Hubble’s. It’s 6.5 meters in diameter, versus 2.4 meters for the Hubble. The Hubble was no problem launching, despite being as large as a school bus. It was placed inside a space shuttle, and deployed by the Canadarm in low earth orbit. That won’t work for the James Webb.

    The Webb has to be launched aboard a rocket to be sent on its way to L2, it’s eventual home. And in order to be launched aboard its rocket, it has to fit into a cargo space in the rocket’s nose. That means it has to be folded up.

    The mirror, which is made up of 18 segments, is folded into three inside the rocket, and unfolded on its way to L2. The antennae and the solar cells also need to unfold.

    Unlike the Hubble, the Webb needs to be kept extremely cool to do its work. It has a cryo-cooler to help with that, but it also has an enormous sunshade. This sunshade is five layers, and very large.

    We need all of these components to deploy for the Webb to do its thing. And nothing like this has been tried before.

    The Webb’s launch is only 7 months away. That’s really close, considering the project almost got cancelled. There’s a cornucopia of science to be done once it’s working.

    But we’re not there yet, and we’ll have to go through the nerve-wracking launch and deployment before we can really get excited.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 12:09 pm on January 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , NASA/ESA/CSA Webb   

    From Ethan Siegel: “The James Webb Space Telescope Will Truly Do What Hubble Only Dreamed Of” 

    Ethan Siegel
    Jan 10, 2017

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated
    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    In 1990, NASA launched the Hubble Space Telescope. This observatory would come to revolutionize not only our scientific understanding of the Universe, but would reveal to humanity, for the first time, what our Universe actually looked like. We could peer inside the densest, most gas-and-dust-rich star forming nebulae, and see exactly how and were stars were beginning to form.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

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    The pillars of creation, as taken for Hubble’s 25th anniversary. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

    We could look out at dying stars, reaching the end of their lives, and see exactly what their final moments in the Universe looked like.

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    Four individual planetary nebulae — He 2-47, NGC 5315, IC 4593, and NGC 5307 — were imaged by Hubble in February of 2007. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

    We could look out at distant galaxies, and reveal their shapes, ages, stellar populations and histories with simply a glimpse.

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    The irregular, interacting galaxy pair Arp 230. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA. Acknowledgement: Flickr user Det58.

    We could look out at the largest gravitationally bound structures in the Universe, and see how mass bent starlight, giving us a firsthand, visual look at the stunning phenomenon of gravitational lensing.

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    Gravitational lensing in galaxy cluster Abell S1063, showcasing the bending of starlight by the presence of matter and energy. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz (STScI).

    And perhaps most importantly of all, we were able to look into the vast abyss of nothingness, photographing what lies beyond our visual reach for hours, days or even weeks at a time. What we wound up seeing changed our view of everything.

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    The full UV-visible-IR composite of the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field; the greatest image ever released of the distant Universe. Image credit: NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University), and Z. Levay (STScI).

    Thanks to Hubble, we now know how stars are born, live and die. We know how galaxies form and grow in the Universe. We know what the ultimate fate of our Universe will be, and where we’re headed in the future. But even without any of this scientific knowledge, Hubble taught us something absolutely incredible: it showed us that this is what our Universe looks like.

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    The James Webb Space Telescope vs. Hubble in size (main) and vs. an array of other telescopes (inset) in terms of wavelength and sensitivity. Image credit: NASA / JWST team.

    By the same token, the James Webb Space Telescope will teach us an incredible amount about the Universe, including further details about how stars form, what the earliest stellar populations look like, will show us gas giants and rogue planets in unprecedented detail and will tell us what made up the Universe at any given time in the past. It will show us a whole slew of things that Hubble cannot, by virtue of it reaching to much longer wavelengths of light than Hubble could ever hope to see. And with its huge, large-aperture primary mirror, it will be able to collect more light in a single day than Hubble could in a week. The most exciting things, of course, will be the unexpected: the things we’ll discover that we don’t even know to look for yet.

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    An artist’s conception of what the Universe might look like as it forms stars for the first time. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC).

    But even if you don’t learn about any of the science that James Webb will bring to us, there’s one thing it will deliver that everyone can enjoy: the James Webb Space Telescope will show us how the Universe grew up.

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    An illustration of CR7, the first galaxy detected that’s thought to house Population III stars: the first stars ever formed in the Universe. JWST will reveal actual images of this galaxy and others like it. Image credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser.

    It will show us how the Universe went from the hot Big Bang and a state with no stars, no planets and no galaxies into the Universe we have today. It will reveal the very first populations of stars, which were created out of the pristine elements — hydrogen and helium alone — which provided the first light in the Universe.

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    On the left, the infrared light from the end of the Universe’s dark ages is shown, with the (foreground) stars subtracted out. JWST will be able to probe all the way back to the very first stars of all. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/A. Kashlinsky (GSFC).

    It will reveal how these first stars grew into star clusters, dwarf galaxies and eventually massive behemoths like our own. It will show us how the neutral atoms became ionized, and transparent to visible light. It will show us when and where the Universe became filled with oxygen, carbon and nitrogen: the elements essential to life. In short, it will tell us how the Universe went from being an inhospitable, smooth complex of pristine gas to the rich, diverse set of planets, stars, galaxies, clusters and great cosmic voids we enjoy today.

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    The biggest ‘big idea’ that JWST has is to reveal to us the very first luminous objects in the Universe, including stars, supernovae, star clusters, galaxies, and luminous black holes. Image credit: Karen Teramura, UHIfA / NASA.

    Hubble showed us what the Universe looks like; James Webb will show us how the Universe came to be the way it is today. Don’t ever say that James Webb is the “next Hubble,” it isn’t and it should never be. Instead, it’s the first James Webb, and when it starts returning images of the Universe, you may never look at your place in the Cosmos the same way again.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    “Starts With A Bang! is a blog/video blog about cosmology, physics, astronomy, and anything else I find interesting enough to write about. I am a firm believer that the highest good in life is learning, and the greatest evil is willful ignorance. The goal of everything on this site is to help inform you about our world, how we came to be here, and to understand how it all works. As I write these pages for you, I hope to not only explain to you what we know, think, and believe, but how we know it, and why we draw the conclusions we do. It is my hope that you find this interesting, informative, and accessible,” says Ethan

     
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