James Webb Telescope’s “First Light” Instrument Prepares To Ship
The James Webb Space Telescope is about to receive its “first light” instrument courtesy of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom.
The Mid-Infrared instrument (Miri) is one of Europe’s biggest contributions to the telescope and will gather key data at the $9 billion observatory in an attempt to find the first starlight in the Universe.
The successor to the Hubble telescope is scheduled to launch in 2018 and with it will carry a 6.5m primary mirror (more than double the width of Hubble’s main mirror) and a shield which will be the size of a tennis court in order to guard the instrument from the heat and light of Earth’s sun.
The James Web Space Telescope will use infrared detectors to look deep into space, back as far as 13 billion years ago.
While most of the instruments on the James Web Space Telescope will do massive sky surveys to find rare objects, Miri’s UK principal investigator Prof. Gillian Wright tells the BBC:
“Miri has a very special role because it will be the instrument that looks at these candidates to determine which of them is a true first light object. Only Miri can give us that confirmation.”
Here are the BBC culled facts about the James Webb Space Telescope:
- James Webb’s main mirror has around seven times more collecting area than Hubble’s 2.4m primary mirror
- The sunshield is about 22m by 12m. There will be a 300-degree difference in temperature between the two sides
- James Webb’s instruments must be very cold to ensure their own infrared glow does not swamp the observations
- The mission will launch in 2018 on an Ariane rocket. The observing position will be 1.5 million km from Earth
Participating in the project are the USA (NASA), Europe (ESA) and Canada (CSA) space agencies.
You can learn more about the amazing JWT HERE.