The James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is planned for launch in 2018 as a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. It will be optimised for operation at near- to mid-infrared wavelengths (0.6-28 microns) to enable exploration of the high redshift and obscured universe. Its primary mirror will be over twice the diameter of the Hubble mirror making it more than 400 times more sensitive than current ground-based or space infrared telescopes. JWST is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
- Primary mirror diameter 6.5m
- Wavelength coverage 0.6-28 µm
- Mission lifetime: 5-10 years
- Orbit around L2 (1.5 million km from Earth)
- A very large sunshield (~22m x 10m)
- Launch Vehicle: Ariane V
- Launch date: 2013
- Science instrumentation: IR cameras and spectrographs
JWST science themes
Cosmology and structure of the universe
Origin and Evolution of Galaxies
History of the Milky Way and its neighbors
Birth and formation of stars
Origin and evolution of the planetary systems
There will be four science instruments on the JWST Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM): the Near Infrared/Visible Camera (NIRCAM), Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSPEC), Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI), Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS). The University of Leicester Space Research Centre provides the Mechanical Engineering Lead for the Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI), is responsible for design and provision of the MIRI Primary Structure (in collaboration with the Danish National Space Centre), and provides support for MIRI test and calibration activities.
MIRI is being developed jointly by Europe and the USA. The European Consortium for MIRI is led by the Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh, managed by EADS Astrium UK, and the AIV (Assembly, Integration & Verification) and Thermal Leads are provided by Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The UK contribution to MIRI is funded by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council.For further information on the MIRI, please click this link.