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James Webb

Picture during building of James Webb in lab.
View through a circular tub of James Webb during development.
Image during development, with telescope encased in a yellow metal framing
Image of worker in clean suit working on hexagonal mirrors of James Webb

Photo Credit: NASA, Fact Credit: JWST/NASA,

James Webb Facts:

- Will be launched in 2021, off of the launch vehicle Ariane 5 ECA and have a mission duration of 5-10 years.

- Total payload of approx. 6200 kg, including observatory, on-orbit consumables and launch vehicle adaptor.

- Primary mirror material of beryllium coated with gold.

- Will have an orbit of 1.5 million km from Earth orbiting the L2 Point and an operating temperature of under 50 K (-370 °F)

The James Webb Space Telescope is the largest, most powerful and most technologically challenging space telescope ever built.


The Webb Telescope is so large, it must be folded like origami to fit inside its rocket fairing for the ride into space. Once in space, unfolding and readying Webb for science is a complex process that will take about six months. Webb is designed to see the most distant galaxies in the Universe and study how galaxies evolved over cosmic time.


Webb will study planets orbiting other stars looking for the chemical signatures of the building blocks of life. Webb will also study planets within our own solar system.


The Webb Telescope Mission is an international space telescope program led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.


Video Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Music Credit: Universal Production Music tracks: Future Generation Alternative Version by Dury; Moment of Anticipation Instrumental by Connolly; Dark Matter Instrumental by Beits 

Related Papers:

de Wit, J. & Seager, S., (2013), Science, 342, 1473. Press Release

“Constraining Exoplanet Mass from Transmission Spectroscopy”

Stevenson, K., … de Wit, J., et al. (2016), PASP, 128, 967

 “Transiting Exoplanet Studies and Community Target for JWST’s Early Release Science Program”

Fauchez, T., .. de Wit, J., et al., in review

“Impact of Clouds and Hazes on the Simulated JWST Transmission Spectra of Habitable Zone Planets in the          TRAPPIST- 1 System”

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