James Webb Space Telescope

Contact Counsellor

James Webb Space Telescope

  • The James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s largest space science telescope ever constructed, is scheduled to be sent into orbit no earlier than December 22, 2021.


  • It is a space telescope being jointly developed by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
  • It is NASA’s largest space science telescope ever constructed and is planned to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope
  • It will provide improved infrared resolution and sensitivity over Hubble and will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology, including observing some of the most distant events and objects in the universe, such as the formation of the first galaxies, and detailed atmospheric characterization of potentially habitable exoplanets.
  • It will observe in a lower frequency range, from long-wavelength visible light through mid-infrared (0.6 to 28.3-μm), which will allow it to observe high redshift objects that are too old and too distant
  • It will study “every phase” in the history of the universe, including the Big Bang, the formation of solar systems that are capable of supporting life on other planets and also, the evolution of our own Solar System.

Scientific instruments:

  • NIRCam (Near InfraRed Camera): It is an infrared imager which will have a spectral coverage ranging from the edge of the visible (0.6 micrometers) through the near infrared (5 micrometers).It has 10 sensors each of 4 megapixels.
  • NIRSpec (Near InfraRed Spectrograph): for performing spectroscopy over the same wavelength range. It was built by the European Space Agency at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands.
  • MIRI (Mid-InfraRed Instrument): It will measure the mid-to-long-infrared wavelength range from 5 to 27 micrometers and contains both a mid-infrared camera and an imaging spectrometer
  • FGS/NIRISS (Fine Guidance Sensor and Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph): will be used to stabilize the line-of-sight of the observatory during science observations

About Gold Mirrors of Telescope:

  • It is a large mirror which will help collect light from the objects being observed.
  • It can fold up and fit into a rocket and then unfold in space.
  • The primary mirror is made of 18 hexagonal-shaped mirror segment
  • Each mirror segment weighs approximately 20 kilograms and is made from beryllium.

Reason for choosing Beryllium for Mirrors:

  • It is both strong and light
  • It is good at holding its shape across a range of temperatures and is also a good conductor of electricity and heat and is not magnetic

Launching of Telescope:

  • It will be launched on an Ariane 5 ECA rocket from French Guiana in South America.
  • The rocket system is being contributed by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Main Goals of the Telescope:

  • to search for the first galaxies that formed after the Big Bang,
  • to determine how galaxies evolved from their earlier formation until now,
  • to observe the formation of stars from the first stages to the formation of planetary systems
  • to measure the physical and chemical properties of planetary systems and investigate the potential for life in such systems.

Controversy surrounding its name:

  • the telescope was caught in a LGBT debate
  • James Webb (after whom the telescope has been named and who was NASA’s government appointed administrator in the 1960s) removed LGBT people from the workforce during his tenure