James Webb Space Telescope: Finding Earth-like Planets

On April 24th, 2010 we joined the Astronomical Community in celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the launching of the most amazing scientific instrument ever conceived – The Hubble Space Telescope. Today on Discovery Enterprise we join the world in breathless anticipation of the many exciting discoveries that lay ahead when the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is fully deployed in 2014.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope, scheduled for launch in 2014. JWST will find the first galaxies that formed in the early Universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own Milky Way Galaxy. JWST will peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems, connecting the Milky Way to our own Solar System. JWST’s instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range.

JWST will have a large mirror, 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in diameter and a sunshield the size of a tennis court. Both the mirror and sunshade won’t fit onto the rocket fully open, so both will fold up and open once JWST is in outer space. JWST will reside in an orbit about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from the Earth.
From this lofty vantage point the JWST will provide the capability to search for the biomarkers of earth-like worlds.

James Webb Space Telescope: Finding Earth-like Planets


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