Engineering Challenges and Scientific Capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope
Speaker: John Mather, NASA
Department: Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Location: Friend Center Auditorium 101
Date/Time: Friday, March 2, 2012, 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
The JWST is planned for launch in 2018 as the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. It extends the scientific discoveries of the HST into the infrared band, covering 0.6 to 28 µm, with extraordinary sensitivity to reach far closer to the Big Bang, to look inside dust clouds where stars and planets are forming today, and to observe exoplanetary atmospheres through the transit technique. The 6.5 m telescope mirror is made of 18 beryllium hexagons, all of which are now polished, gold-coated, and tested. Using algorithms developed for the Hubble repair, the JWST will be focused after launch to achieve diffraction-limited performance at 2 µm. The telescope is protected by a 5-layer deployable sunshield the size of a tennis court, to enable it to cool to about 40 K, to reduce its thermal emissions. I will outline the new concepts and technologies needed for the mission and the scientific observations that are likely with the new observatory.
John C. Mather, Nobel Laureate, received a B.A. in Physics from Swarthmore College (Highest Honors, Phi Beta Kappa), in 1968. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley (with a 4.0 GPA) in
1974. In 2006 Dr. John C. Mather of NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center won the Nobel Prize for Physics, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, sharing the prize with George F. Smoot of the University of California for their collaborative work on understanding the Big Bang. Dr. Mather joined the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland to head the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) Mission as a Project Scientist. He has been a Goddard Fellow since 1994 and currently serves as Senior Project Scientist and Chair of the Science Working Group of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Mission. He is also working on the SAFIR, SPECS, GEST, and WISE missions. Dr. Mathers numerous awards include the John C. Lindsay Memorial Award, National Air and Space Museum Trophy, AIAA Space Science Award, Aviation Week and
Space Technology Laurels for Space/Missiles, Dannie Heinemann Prize for Astrophysics, Rumford Prize, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics, and membership in the National Academy of Sciences. He has been elected to the American Astronomical Society Council.