The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, and it will be almost three times the size of Hubble. JWST has been designed to work best at infrared wavelengths. This will allow it to study the very distant Universe, looking for the first stars and galaxies that ever emerged.
In September 2011 engineers completed coating of James Webb's 21 mirror segments with microscopic layers of gold.
The James Webb Space Telescope will offer unprecedented views of the heavens far surpassing any available with current telescopes.
This is a simulated image of the distant universe as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope, which will improve significantly on existing observatories.
JWST will study every phase in the history of our universe, from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth.
The Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) on board the James Webb Space Telescope will be used by astronomers to study faint comets circling the Sun, newly born faraway planets, regions of obscured star formation, and galaxies near the edge of the universe. It must work at extremely low temperatures, of just 7 K above absolute zero or -266 °C. Here, MIRI is being placed in the thermal test chamber at RAL Space, Oxfordshire, UK.
Looking down at the James Webb Space Telescope, the sunshield, which is stretched out underneath the mirrors (yellow) looks like a spider web.
NASA engineer Ernie Wright holds a dramatic pose in front of the first six flight-ready segments of the James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Engineers began final round-the-clock cryogenic testing on the mirrors before integrating them into the telescope's structure.
The sun shield created for the James Webb Space Telescope will reach the size of a tennis court.
A life-size model of the James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2018, was on display at New York's Battery Park in June 2010.
Through a process called "Wavefront Sensing and Control," or WFSC, software aboard the James Webb Space Telescope will compute the best position for each of 18 mirrors and one secondary mirror, and then adjust the positions. Engineers used a 1/6 scale model to test the WFSC software.
A full-scale, tennis court-sized model of the James Webb Space Telescope. The replica was on display in Battery Park in New York City as part of the 2010 World Science Festival.
This artist's impression shows the selected design for the James Webb Space Telescope. Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace are the prime contractors for JWST.
During cryogenic testing, the mirrors will be subjected to temperatures dipping to -415 degrees Fahrenheit, permitting engineers to measure in extreme detail how the shape of each mirror changes as it cools.
Several critical items related to NASA's next-generation James Webb Space Telescope currently are being tested in the thermal vacuum test chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Image released April 30, 2012.