Episode 591

The History And Future Of The James Webb Space Telescope

00:00:00
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00:21:17

November 18th, 2019

21 mins 17 secs

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About this Episode

On March 30, 2021, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will blast off from the European Space Agency’s European spaceport in Kourou, French Giana on board an Ariane 5 rocket.

It’ll fly to the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point, a relatively stable spot in space that keeps the glare from the Sun, Earth, and Moon all in a tiny spot in the sky. Then, it’ll unfurl its tennis court-sized sunshade, fold out its gigantic 6.5-meter mirror, and peer out into the distant cosmos.

Over the course of the next 10 years, this infrared observatory will help astronomers learn about the earliest moments of the Universe, directly observe the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars, and peer at newly forming stars and planets.

And if you listened to the words I just said with equal parts terror and skepticism, I don’t blame you. James Webb’s path to space has been long and tortuous. And the risks that the mission still faces are very real. Hopefully, the science will be worth it. Hopefully, nothing else goes wrong from now until deployment.

So today, I want to do a deep dive into James Webb. To talk about the history of the mission, why it exists, how the development went, and where it stands today.

I’ll warn you though, the length of this video is going to go way over budget.

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Team: Fraser Cain - @fcain / [email protected]
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References:
http://www.stsci.edu/jwst/about-jwst/history
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/servicing/index.html
https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/2017/highlights-of-hubble-s-exploration-of-the-universe
http://www.stsci.edu/files/live/sites/www/files/home/hst/documentation/_documents/NextGenerationSpaceTelescope.pdf
https://webb.nasa.gov/content/about/faqs/whoIsJamesWebb.html
http://www.stsci.edu/jwst/about-jwst/history/design-reference-mission-drm
https://archive.ph/20120805155712/http://www.stsci.edu/jwst/news/2003/nasa-announces-contract
https://www.nature.com/articles/4671028a
http://www.icc.dur.ac.uk/~tt/Lectures/Galaxies/Images/Infrared/Regions/irregions.html
https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/observatory/sunshield.html
https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/observatory/instruments/index.html
https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/observatory/instruments/nircam.html
https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/observatory/instruments/fgs.html
https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/observatory/instruments/miri.html
https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/about/comparisonWebbVsHubble.html
https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/about/faqs/faq.html
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/
https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/forScientists/faqScientists.html
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-completes-webb-telescope-review
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/nasa-s-james-webb-space-telescope-has-been-assembled-for-the-first-time

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