James Webb Space Telescope
Launch Date May 2020
Launch Site Guiana Space Centre, Kourou, French Guiana
Destination Our Solar System, Beyond Our Solar System
Type Orbiter
Status In Development
Nation United States, Europe, Canada
Alternate Names JWST, Webb

Goals

Webb—a large infrared telescope with a 21-foot or 6.5-meter primary mirror—will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own solar system.

Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, which orbits Earth, Webb will orbit the Sun, one million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from the Earth at the second Lagrange point (L2). This gravitation balance point between the Sun and Earth will allow the telescope to stay in line with the Earth as it moves around the Sun. A large sunshield will protect Webb from the light and heat of the Sun, Earth and Moon.

Accomplishments

This mission is in development.

Spacecraft

Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5 ECA

Mission Duration: 5 - 10 years

Total payload mass: About 13,700 pounds (6200 kilograms), including observatory, on-orbit consumables and launch vehicle adaptor

Diameter of primary mirror: 21.3 feet (~6.5 meters)

Mass of primary mirror: About 1,500 pounds (705 kilograms)

Number of primary mirror segments: 18

Size of sun shield: 69.5 feet x 46.5 feet (21.197 meters x 14.162 meters)

Orbit: About 93 million miles (1.5 million km) from Earth), orbiting the Lagrange 2 Point

Additional Resources

NASA: James Webb Space Telescope

Twitter: @NASAWebb

Instagram: @NASAWebb

NASA: Webb News Portal

Solar System News