James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

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James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Post by bystander » Thu Apr 29, 2010 6:08 am

Webb Telescope Passes Mission Milestone
NASA GSFC JWST 10-099 - 28 Apr 2010
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has passed its most significant mission milestone to date, the Mission Critical Design Review, or MCDR. This signifies the integrated observatory will meet all science and engineering requirements for its mission.

"I'm delighted by this news and proud of the Webb program's great technical achievements," said Eric Smith, Webb telescope program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The independent team conducting the review confirmed the designs, hardware and test plans for Webb will deliver the fantastic capabilities always envisioned for NASA's next major space observatory. The scientific successor to Hubble is making great progress."

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md., manages the mission. Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach, Calif., is leading the design and development effort.

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BA: Hubble versus Webb

Post by bystander » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:00 pm

Hubble versus Webb
Bad Astronomy | 15 June 2010
Hubble is an awesome ’scope, but its life is limited. Heavy and huge, there’s no way to bring it back, and with the Shuttle retiring there’s no easy way to get to it. Eventually its gyros will fail, it won’t be able to be pointed, and then that’s that.

For the past few years, NASA has been working on the James Webb Space Telescope, what some people call Hubble’s "replacement", which is a misnomer: it’s actually Hubble’s successor. It will do amazing astronomy too, but it has different capabilities than its predecessor.

How different, you ask? I’m glad you did, and so is NASA: they’ve put together a side-by-side comparison of the two observatories (warning huge Flash animation stuff).

Just how different are they? Check out the comparison of their mirrors:
  • Image
Hmmm, the woman in the diagram is pretty tall, 1.8 meters — 6 feet! Of course, she’s in heels. But should she really have her hand on that priceless (if incorrectly ground) mirror?

Anyway, check out the comparison. I’ll miss Hubble when it goes, but I’m very excited about what JWST will do for astronomy, for science, and for humanity’s search for understanding. It will be a powerful, powerful tool.
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NASA: 'L2' Will be the JWST's Home in Space

Post by bystander » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:19 pm

'L2' Will be the James Webb Space Telescope's Home in Space
NASA GSFC JWST - 23 June 2010
When you ask an astronomer about the James Webb Space Telescope's orbit, they'll tell you something that sounds like it came from a science-fiction novel. The Webb won't be orbiting the Earth –instead we will send it almost a million miles out into space to a place called "L2."

L2 is short-hand for the second Lagrange Point, a wonderful accident of gravity and orbital mechanics, and the perfect place to park the Webb telescope in space. There are five so-called "Lagrange Points" - areas where gravity from the sun and Earth balance the orbital motion of a satellite. Putting a spacecraft at any of these points allows it to stay in a fixed position relative to the Earth and sun with a minimal amount of energy needed for course correction.

The term L2 may sound futuristic and mysterious, but the name actually honors a Mathematician born in 1736. The Lagrange points were named after the Italian-born mathematician and astronomer Joseph-Louis Lagrange, who made important contributions to classical and celestial mechanics. Lagrange studied the "three-body problem" (so-called because three bodies are orbiting each other) for the Earth, sun, and moon in 1764, and by 1772 he had found the solution; there are five stable points at which you could put an object and have it stay fixed in place relative to the other two.

In the case of L2, this happens about 930,000 miles away from the Earth in the exact opposite direction from the sun. The Earth, as we know, orbits the sun once every year. Normally, an object almost a million miles farther out from the sun should move more slowly, taking more than a year to complete its orbit around the sun. However, at L2, exactly lined up with both the sun and Earth, the added gravity of the two large bodies pulling in the same direction gives a spacecraft an extra boost of energy, locking it into perfect unison with the Earth's yearly orbit. The Webb telescope will be placed slightly off the true balance point, in a gentle orbit around L2.

Why send the Webb telescope all the way out to L2? When astronomers began to think about where the Webb telescope should be placed in space, there were several considerations to keep in mind. To begin with, the Webb telescope will view the universe entirely in infrared light, what we commonly think of as heat radiation. To give the telescope the best chance of detecting distant, dim objects in space, the coldest temperatures possible are needed.

"A huge advantage of deep space (like L2) when compared to Earth orbit is that we can radiate the heat away," said Jonathan P. Gardner, the Deputy Senior Project Scientist on the Webb Telescope mission and Chief of the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Webb works in the infrared, which is heat radiation. To see the infrared light from distant stars and galaxies, the telescope has to be cold. Webb's large sunshield will protect it from both Sunlight and Earthlight, allowing it to cool to 225 degrees below zero Celsius (minus 370 Fahrenheit)." For the sunshield to be effective, Webb will need to be an orbit where the sun and Earth are in about the same direction.

With the sun and the Earth in the same part of the sky, the Webb telescope will enjoy an open, unimpeded view of the universe. In comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope is in low-Earth orbit where it goes in and out of the Earth's shadow every 90 minutes. Hubble's view is blocked by the Earth for part of each orbit, limiting where the telescope can look at any given time.

The Spitzer Space Telescope, another infrared telescope, is in orbit around the sun and drifting away from the Earth. Spitzer is already more than 100 million kilometers (60 million miles) away from the Earth, and eventually its path will take it to the other side of the sun. Once we can no longer communicate with Spitzer that means it is at the end of its mission life.

In contrast, a major perk of parking at L2 is the ease of communications. Essentially, the Webb telescope will always be at the same point in space. "We can have continuous communications with Webb through the Deep Space Network (DSN)," Gardner said. "During routine operations, we will uplink command sequences and downlink data up to twice per day, through the DSN. The observatory can perform a sequence of commands (pointing and observations) autonomously. Typically, we will upload a full week's worth of commands at a time, and make updates daily as needed."

Even before the Webb telescope, L2 has been known to astronomers as a good spot for space-based observatories. There are already several satellites in the L2 orbit, including the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, and the Herschel and Planck space observatories. But there's plenty of room for another neighbor, and the Webb telescope will be heading out to L2 in the near future.

The Webb telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

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Re: GSFC: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Post by wonderboy » Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:15 am

I remember watching a program on tv about this telescope, I'm quite excited about it if I'm honest. My mates (being 25 and all) think I'm a saddo, but I don't care. the images this will provide will be beyond amazing.

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GSFC: ESA To Set Tiny Hair-Like JWST Microshutters

Post by bystander » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:24 pm

ESA To Set Tiny Hair-Like Webb Telescope Microshutters
NASA GSFC JWST (10-055) - 29 June 2010
Tiny little shutters as small as the width of a human hair are a key component in the James Webb Space Telescope's ability to see huge distances in the cosmos, and they have now arrived at the European Space Agency. Those little "shutters" are actually called "microshutters" and they are tiny doorways that focus the attention of the infrared camera on specific targets to the exclusion of others. They will focus in on objects like very distant stars and galaxies.

The microshutters were recently shipped from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. to the European Space Agency (ESA) for installation into the near-infrared spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument. This is a big step, because the microshutters are components that will fly on the actual telescope.
...
The microshutters are assembled as an "array" or collection. An array is a group of tiny microshutters that looks like a little square in a waffle-like grid. Each array or grid contains over 62,000 shutters. Individually, each microshutter measures 100 by 200 microns, or about the width of a human hair. The telescope will contain four of these waffle-looking grids all put together. They also have to work at the incredibly cold temperature of minus 388 degrees Fahrenheit (-233 degrees Celsius).

The microshutters will enable scientists to block unwanted light from objects closer to the camera in space, like light from stars in our Galaxy, letting the light from faraway objects shine through. To get an idea of how these tiny little "hairlike" shutters work, think about how a person raises their hand in front of their eyes to block the sunshine while trying to look at a traffic signal. Microshutters block excess light to see a dim object by blocking out brighter sources of light in the cosmos.

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MSFC: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Post by bystander » Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:45 pm

James Webb Space Telescope Completes Cryogenic Mirror Test
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center | via Astronomy.com | 27 July 2010
The test gauges how the mirrors change temperature and shape over a range of operational temperatures in space.

Recently, six James Webb Space Telescope beryllium mirror segments completed a series of cryogenic tests at the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

During testing, the mirrors were subjected to extreme temperatures dipping to -415° Fahrenheit (-248° Celsius), permitting NASA engineers to measure in detail how the shape of the mirror changes as it cools.

The mirrors will be shipped to Tinsley Corp. in Redmond, California, for final surface polishing at room temperature. Using "surface error" measurements, each mirror will then be polished in the opposite of the surface error values observed, so when the mirror goes through the next round of cryogenic testing, at Marshall, it should "distort" into a perfect shape.

The facility at Marshall is the world's largest X-ray telescope test facility and a unique site for cryogenic, clean-room optical testing.

The next set of mirrors is due to arrive at NASA Marshall in August.
...
For more information about the James Webb Space Telescope, visit: http://www.jwst.nasa.gov

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The Demise of the James Webb Space Telescope

Post by bystander » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:33 pm

House Spending Panel Wants to Kill Webb Telescope
Science Insider | Yudhijit Bhattacharjee | 2011 Jul 06

Proposed NASA Budget Bill Would Cancel James Webb Space Telescope
Universe Today | Nancy Atkinson | 2011 Jul 07

Congress puts NASA and JWST on the chopping block
Discover Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2011 Jul 07

James Webb Space Telescope
Discover Blogs | Cosmic Variance | 2011 Jul 07

Why We Need the James Webb Space Telescope
Discover Blogs | Cosmic Variance | 2011 Jul 07

What's after the Hubble space telescope? Possibly nothing
ars technica | John Timmer | 2011 Jul 07

Threat of James Webb Space Telescope Cancellation Rattles Astronomy Community
Scientific American | John Matson | 2011 Jul 07

House subcommittee votes to slash NASA
Planetary Society | Bill Nye | 2011 Jul 07

Proposed NASA Budget Bill Would Cancel Major Space Telescope
Space.com | Dan Leone | 2011 Jul 08

Scientists Condemn Plans to Scrap Hubble Telescope Successor
Space.com | Denise Chow | 2011 Jul 12

NASA Chief to Congress: Save the James Webb Space Telescope
Space.com | Mike Wall | 2011 Jul 13

Congress threatens America’s future in space
Discover Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2011 Jul 14

House Committee Votes the Wrong Way – JWST to be Canceled
Planetary Society | Charlene Anderson | 2011 Jul 14
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USA: Hubble successor in trouble

Post by bystander » Sun Aug 07, 2011 8:04 pm

Hubble successor in trouble
PhysOrg | Dan Vergano, USA Today | 2011 Aug 07
For years, astronomers have set their sights on launching a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope-one with 100 times its power-that could peer back to the earliest light of the universe. But funding for the costly James Webb Space Telescope is now under a cloud, targeted for the chopping block.

Amid the larger budget debate, a House appropriations committee vote last month proposed killing the telescope.

Costs have risen to $6.8 billion-up 50 percent from a 2005 estimate-and may go higher after another NASA review next year.

The telescope is "billions of dollars over budget and plagued by poor management," said the committee, in a statement accompanying the bill, which also proposed cutting NASA's budget 9 percent to $16.8 billion.

Astronomers and political supporters, such as Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., have mobilized to try to save the observatory, which is named for a former NASA administrator, not Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.

Scheduled for launch no sooner than 2018, four years late, the 21-foot-wide telescope would see the faint light of the first stars, and peer within dust clouds to see planets grow around young stars.

For more than a decade, astronomers have pinned plans on the telescope, which would be equipped with tennis-court-sized shades that unfold to cool the spacecraft against sunlight.

"It will be a game-changer, revolutionary," says University of Chicago astrophysicist Michael Turner, a former National Science Foundation official. However, an expert report last year headed by John Casani of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, found that the telescope's cost had increased about $1.5billion just since 2008.

NASA moved new management in, but the report clearly angered the science spending committee headed by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. A committee report said, "that this step will ultimately benefit NASA by setting a cost discipline example for other projects."

When the July vote was taken, Wolf expressed support for the telescope's mission, but only if NASA undertakes fundamental changes in its budget process. He noted that budget busting for the Webb telescope, which the journal Nature last year called "the telescope that ate astronomy," threatened NASA's other science missions.

"Losing the telescope would be a huge blow to U.S. science and prestige," Turner says. "We would basically be telling the world we can't do great things anymore."

(c) 2011, USA Today. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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Re: USA: Hubble successor in trouble

Post by alter-ego » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:24 am

bystander wrote:Hubble successor in trouble
PhysOrg | Dan Vergano, USA Today | 2011 Aug 07
For years, astronomers have set their sights on launching a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope-one with 100 times its power-that could peer back to the earliest light of the universe. But funding for the costly James Webb Space Telescope is now under a cloud, targeted for the chopping block.
This may sound corny, but if you want to help, write/e-mail your congressperson :)
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Re: GSFC: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Post by owlice » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:29 am

https://www.facebook.com/SaveJWST

Some folks there have shared their letters to Congress. I'm sure there are other social networking thingies devoted to the cause, too.
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Re: GSFC: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Post by alter-ego » Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:01 am

owlice wrote:https://www.facebook.com/SaveJWST

Some folks there have shared their letters to Congress. I'm sure there are other social networking thingies devoted to the cause, too.
Nice! Thanks for sharing that resource, owlice.
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JWST MIRI Flight Instrument Completes Cryogenic Testing

Post by bystander » Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:32 pm

JWST MIRI Flight Instrument Completes Cryogenic Testing
NASA | JPL-Caltech | GSFC | 2011 Aug 18
A pioneering camera and spectrometer that will fly aboard NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has completed cryogenic testing designed to mimic the harsh conditions it will experience in space.

The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) underwent testing inside the thermal space test chamber at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Space in Oxfordshire, U.K. The sophisticated instrument is designed to examine the first light in the universe and the formation of planets around other stars.

A team of more than 50 scientists from 11 countries tested MIRI for 86 days, representing the longest and most exhaustive testing at cryogenic temperatures of an astronomy instrument in Europe prior to delivery for its integration into a spacecraft.

"The successful completion of the test program, involving more than 2,000 individual tests, marks a major milestone for the Webb telescope mission," said Matthew Greenhouse, Webb telescope project scientist for the Science Instrument Payload, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Along with the Webb telescope's other instruments, MIRI will help scientists better understand how the universe formed following the Big Bang and ultimately developed star systems that may be capable of supporting life. In particular, scientists hope to explore young planets around distant stars that are shrouded by gas and dust when viewed in visible light. Because infrared light penetrates these obstructions, MIRI can acquire images of planetary nurseries sharper than ever before possible. With its spectrometer, MIRI could potentially reveal the existence of water on these planets as well, informing future investigations into their habitability for humans.

To capture some of the earliest, infrared light in the cosmos, MIRI has to be cooled to 7 Kelvin (minus 266 Celsius, or minus 447 Fahrenheit), which brings tough challenges for testing the instrument. Inside the RAL Space thermal space test chamber, specially constructed shrouds, cooled to 40 Kelvin (minus 233 Celsius, or minus 388 Fahrenheit), surround MIRI while scientists observe simulated background stars. The tests were designed to ensure that MIRI can operate successfully in the cold vacuum of space and allow scientists to gather vital calibration and baseline data.

The MIRI team is now analyzing data from the cryogenic test campaign, completing remaining "warm testing," and will prepare the instrument for delivery to NASA Goddard. There it will be integrated with the other instruments, and the telescope.

"Thousands of astronomers will use the Webb telescope to extend the reach of human knowledge far beyond today's limits. Just as the Hubble Space Telescope rewrote textbooks everywhere, Webb will find new surprises and help to answer some of the most pressing questions in astronomy," said John Mather, Nobel laureate and Webb senior project scientist at NASA Goddard.

First JWST instrument finishes testing
European Space Agency | 2011 Aug 18

Cosmic eye emerges from exhaustive tests in UK space lab
UK Science & Technology Facilities Council | 2011 Aug 18

First JWST Instrument Passes Tests
Universe Today | Ray Sanders | 2011 Aug 18
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
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Re: GSFC: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Post by orin stepanek » Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:32 pm

It would be a shame to cancel the JWST as far along at development has gone; but it is awful expensive. Hopefully it will get airborne before the budget strings are cut. :?
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Re: GSFC: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Post by Ann » Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:13 pm

Anything that can be successfully launched before politicians in the United States and Europe start cutting funding wherever they can is a wonderful thing. I was glad to see Juno make it into space. For myself, I just dearly hope that Gaia will be the success that it deserves to be.

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Investing in the Greatest Technological Breakthroughs

Post by bystander » Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:20 pm

Investing in the Greatest Technological Breakthroughs of our Time–the James Webb Space Telescope
Scientific American | Scott Willoughby, Guest Blog | 2011 Aug 22
At a time when America could certainly use something to be proud of, we are at risk of terminating our grandest shot at it – The James Webb Space Telescope. The engineering and scientific gains that have and will come from Webb are unprecedented. Most recently, the telescope reached its most significant milestone to date. All primary mirror segments successfully completed manufacturing. Yet the program has been put on the chopping block. The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee recently voted to terminate funding, and by doing so, end America’s long history of leadership in space science and technology.

Finishing Webb’s mirrors is much more than a remarkable technological achievement. It puts most of the Webb telescope’s developmental risk and uncertainty behind us. What remains is assembly of the completed components and integration and testing as we continue to move to the launch date. With nearly 75% of the mass of the telescope in production or complete, we have demonstrated that we can do it.

NASA has invested $3.5 billion to build the Webb telescope, an investment in the greatest technological breakthroughs of our time. Ten innovative and powerful new technologies ranging from optics to infrared instruments to temperature control systems were developed, technologies that have already been spun off to help advance other scientific, medical and commercial endeavors.

For example, the advanced wavefront sensing developed for testing the Webb telescope’s 18 primary mirror segments led to a number of improvements in measurement technology used for human eyes, including ocular disease diagnosis and potentially improved surgery. Ophthalmologists routinely use wavefront technology to measure aberrations of the eye. Those measurements help with diagnosis, research, characterization and planning treatment of eye health issues.

According to Dr. Dan Neal, Research Fellow at Abbott Medical Optics Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M., wavefront technology also provides more accurate eye measurements for people about to undergo laser refractive surgery. As technology improves, so does the quality of these procedures.

A new “scanning and stitching” technology developed for the Webb telescope led to a number of innovative instrument concepts for more accurate measurement for contact lenses and intra-ocular lenses. This technique can help “map” the topography of the eye more accurately.

Four patents have been issued as result of innovations driven by the Webb telescope program. These tools are now used to align and build the next generation of measuring devices for human eyes.

The Webb telescope is also paving the way for future commercial and government technology applications. Industry relies on government to fund cutting-edge programs that often lead to spin-offs in many adjacent fields. An example is MRI technology improvements for cancer imaging that came out of the Hubble Space Telescope​ development.

In addition, projects like Webb are essential to maintaining the nation’s critical hi-tech skills and recruiting top talent to the aerospace industry, where the pipeline is facing a critical shortage as the generation inspired by NASA’s quest for the moon retires.

Inventing these technologies has truly been a team effort of NASA, Northrop Grumman​, our principal subcontractors and many other team members large and small. Let’s take the example of the flight mirrors, polished by the amazing people at L-3 Tinsley in Richmond, Calif., led by our subcontractor Ball Aerospace. They personify the kind of ingenuity that put America at the forefront of daunting technological undertakings such as this.

In September, 2003, when Tinsley chose beryllium as the material that would comprise the mirrors, many people doubted that this lightweight material was even feasible for this purpose. And even if it was technologically feasible, the doubters predicted Tinsley would take “forever” to complete the task.

Tinsley proved the doubters wrong. They built a state of the art mirror polishing facility, including custom Computer Controlled Optical Surfacing system machines, temperature cycling ovens, and optical metrology. The level of precision they were able to achieve required an ability to polish away mere atoms at a time.

Imagine if the continental United States was to be polished smooth to the same tolerances. This continent – from Maine to California – would not vary in thickness by more than an inch. Tinsley’s work is virtually perfect.

We are also moving forward with a more advanced level of testing on the sunshield, the five- layer structure the size of a tennis court that will keep the telescope’s mirrors cold. Our partner Nexolve in Huntsville, Ala., will soon begin testing on the full-size layers to prove that the ultra-thin sunshield material will behave as we predict. Next, we’ll begin testing on the carefully orchestrated sequence the sunshield will follow as it unfolds after launch. Like L-3 Tinsley, Nexolve is a small company whose considerable technical skills are playing a significant role in building and testing the telescope. Dozens of small businesses like them all across the country have joined the Webb telescope team.

Tinsley’s accomplishment represents a decade-long team effort, not simply among scientists and engineers, but a team effort between the scientific community and all those who recognize what the James Webb Space Telescope means for our understanding of our universe; what it means for American innovation and technology; and what it means for the kind of technical leadership which so many of our nation’s leaders have said is so important to our national future and global competitiveness.

The Webb telescope program is critical to the national and international scientific communities. The National Academy of Sciences ranked it the highest-priority astronomy research project to be started in the last decade. And as one researcher and educator has observed, we are rapidly approaching the limit of what can be done scientifically without the James Webb Space Telescope.

There is something uniquely human – and certainly American – about exploration and the quest to learn where we came from and whether or not we are alone in this vast universe. The Hubble revolutionized our understanding of these questions. But the James Webb – and only the James Webb – will properly continue that exploration and understanding.

These are difficult and challenging economic times, but any short-term budgetary gains from canceling Webb would be more than offset by the loss of high-tech jobs, damage to U.S. leadership in science and technology, and loss of a mission that, like Hubble, is guaranteed to inspire the public and motivate large numbers of American schoolchildren to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Careers that will most likely not exist, if we as a country, cannot commit to pursuing technological advancements like those being made today on the Webb telescope.

I see Webb’s power of inspiration in my two young daughters, whose faces light up with excitement, curiosity and enthusiasm when I tell them about our work on the telescope. They and many other schoolchildren like them are this country’s future engineers and scientists. What are we as a nation telling them when our elected representatives vote to cancel the world’s most powerful space telescope? Are we saying our children’s aspirations and dreams have no future? And if that is true, what does that portend for the future of our nation? The James Webb Space Telescope has the power to move human knowledge forward in ways we can only imagine. Let us not abandon this quest now. Let us find a way to stay the course, for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.

You can show your support for the Webb telescope and America’s leadership in science and technology by visiting http://www.northropgrumman.com/supportjwst/

Dare to Dream with the James Webb Space Telescope
Discovery News | Jennifer Ouellette | 2011 Aug 23

Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Fans of the beleaguered James Webb Space Telescope -- the planned successor to the Hubble Space Telescope -- will be sad to hear that "a new independent cost analysis shows it will take another $3.6 billion to get the telescope ready to fly in 2018." For those keeping tabs on the final bill, we're looking at a total mission cost of $8.7 billion by now, putting the project's future in peril yet again.

This news comes at a time of deep budget cuts and Congressional opposition. The Obama administration has already asked Federal agencies, NASA among them, to plan for 10 percent cuts to their budget effective Oct. 1, 2012. And last month, the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee recommended the Webb telescope project be scrapped altogether -- a recommendation that was quickly approved by the full House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

This isn't a question of whether the project is scientifically valuable; it is brute economics that threatens to derail the mission entirely. True, the project has suffered from poor management and large cost over-runs at a time when funding is especially tight. It's fair to ask NASA to justify the hefty price tag. And I get the need for national belt-tightening, I really do, but I still come down firmly on the side of science in this instance, as do many others.

Folks have been making the case for the Webb telescope quite eloquently over the last couple of months, such as this spirited defense from Julianne Dalcanton of Cosmic Variance:
  • Yes, JWST has cost more than was planned for. But the majority of the cost is now “sunk costs”, and a huge fraction of the telescope and instruments actually exist. This is not just a hole that people have been shoveling money into, and not getting anything for — useful stuff is actually built! And working! I would of course prefer that JWST launched on time and under budget, but, given how close we are to the end, I much prefer to go for it. Canceling JWST is not going to usher in a golden age of other space-based science opportunities (the “crowding out theory”, where once the shade of JWST is gone, a thousand flowers will bloom). The money will simply be gone from space-based astronomy, and instead of a single tree we can all climb, there will be some smaller pieces of shrubbery.
The latest to speak up for the JWST is Scott Willoughby, guest-blogging at Scientific American. Willoughly has a vested interest, as the vice president and program manager for the JWST program at Northrup-Grummon contracted by NASA to build the thing. But he still makes a strong argument in favor of the mission, citing the creation of high-tech jobs in the aerospace industry -- currently facing a potential shortage as the older generation of scientists and engineers retire -- and improvements in MRI technology for cancer imaging, for starters.

Then there's the inevitable spinoff technologies that result from project of this size and scope, including infrared instruments and temperature control systems, not to mention optics. For instance, anyone who wears corrective lenses or is considering laser surgery for vision correction will be thrilled to hear that all that work developing the JWST's 18 mirrors and wavefront sensing technology has led to several new patents for making more accurate eye measurements and fabricating more precise contact lenses.
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Willoughby ends by echoing Neil de Grasse Tyson's comments about the power of the JWST (and Hubble, and the space program) to inspire people, particularly children, not to be afraid to dream, in hopes that many will want to become scientists and engineers themselves one day, and push the scientific frontier even further:
  • I see Webb’s power of inspiration in my two young daughters, whose faces light up with excitement, curiosity and enthusiasm when I tell them about our work on the telescope. They and many other schoolchildren like them are this country’s future engineers and scientists. What are we as a nation telling them when our elected representatives vote to cancel the world’s most powerful space telescope? Are we saying our children’s aspirations and dreams have no future? And if that is true, what does that portend for the future of our nation? The James Webb Space Telescope has the power to move human knowledge forward in ways we can only imagine. Let us not abandon this quest now. Let us find a way to stay the course, for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.
Or, to put it more bluntly: we can't always just focus on the "suck"; sometimes we need a hefty dose of "awesome," and the JWST can provide that.

NASA to share telescope cost
Nature News | Eric Hand | 2011 Aug 22
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is perilously overbudget and under threat of cancellation, but Nature has learned that it may be offered a financial lifeline. The flagship observatory is currently funded entirely through NASA's science division; now NASA is requesting that more than US$1 billion in extra costs be shared 50:50 with the rest of the agency. The request reflects administrator Charles Bolden's view, expressed earlier this month, that the telescope is a priority not only for the science programme, but for the entire agency.

NASA expects that the total cost of getting the 6.5-metre telescope to the launch pad by 2018 will be about $8 billion, around $1.5 billion more and three years later than an independent panel predicted in November 2010. Because in the next few years agency budgets are likely to be flat at best, scientists had feared that the JWST would end up swallowing the $1-billion astrophysics budget whole, or at least heavily eroding the $5-billion science-division budget. The new proposal would scrape money from other corners of the agency's $18-billion budget, which also supports programmes such as aeronautics, technology development and human spaceflight. Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, says he is glad that the agency is making the JWST a priority. "There's an acknowledgement that the science budget can't solve this on its own," says Mountain, whose institute operates the Hubble Space Telescope and is preparing to do the same for the JWST.

The proposal to share the JWST's costs across the agency is part of a 'replan' developed by NASA after the independent panel criticized the project's management and found it to be colossally overbudget (see Nature 468, 353–354; 2010). The plan has been under consideration for weeks by the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which has an oversight role in setting budgets. NASA declined to comment on the cost-sharing aspects of the plan, but spokesman Trent Perrotto notes that five years of operational costs will bring the telescope's overall price tag up to $8.7 billion. If the OMB rejects the plan, it would cast further doubt on whether the JWST will ever fly, because a House of Representatives committee has already voted, on 13 July, to cancel the telescope.

The drama surrounding the JWST is clearly on the mind of Bolden, NASA's highest official. On 2 August, before a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council began, Bolden told an assembly of dozens of advisers that the JWST is now one of the agency's top three priorities.

The first is to continue to support the development of commercial rockets able to carry people to and from the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit, a goal of companies such as Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California. Second is the development of a heavy-lift rocket that can take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit to reach objects such as nearby asteroids. Both of these activities would fall under the aegis of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, which was formed on 12 August in a merger of the programme that operated the now-retired space-shuttle fleet and the programme that began the development of the Constellation rockets, part of the now-cancelled project to return to the Moon. That Bolden's third priority is the JWST "makes it clear that he's going to be fighting for it", says Alan Boss, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington DC and chair of a NASA astrophysics advisory subcommittee.

Even allowing for cost-sharing within the agency, lawmakers on Capitol Hill would have to cough up more money for NASA than recommended by the House committee if it is to turn all of Bolden's priorities into realities. In September, when Congress returns from recess, it is expected to resume the appropriations process for the 2012 fiscal year. All eyes will be on the Senate and Barbara Mikulski (Democrat, Maryland) to see how strongly she fights for the JWST project, which is being managed in her state.

If the OMB approves NASA's plan — and if lawmakers oblige by appropriating enough money — astronomers should consider themselves lucky. Some observers suggest that if the science division has to cover only half of the JWST's overruns, it could do so without delaying or cancelling any other missions.

But Brett Alexander, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, says that shifting the cuts onto other parts of the agency will definitely hurt. He points out that scientists complained loudly in 2006 when money was redirected from science to support the Constellation rocket-building effort. "Now the science community may be looking for human spaceflight money to cover the science overruns," he says.
Rumors of Continued Soaring Life-Cycle Costs for Webb Telescope
Universe Today | Nancy Atkinson | 2011 Aug 22

Hubble’s successor: doomed or saved?
Discover Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2011 Aug 23

Webb Telescope Delayed, Costs Rise to $8.7 Billion
Science Insider | Ron Cowen | 2011 Aug 25
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alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Post by neufer » Tue Sep 06, 2011 6:59 pm

Click to play embedded YouTube video.
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Post by neufer » Thu Sep 15, 2011 3:57 am

http://news.discovery.com/space/james-webb-space-telescope-saved-110914.html wrote:
James Webb Space Telescope Saved?
Analysis by Ian O'Neill
Wed Sep 14, 2011 05:51 PM ET

<<Finally, some good news for the Hubble space telescope's successor: a Senate subcommittee has approved a science appropriations bill today providing funds to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) for the next fiscal year.

"The bill provides funds to enable a 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope," the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations subcommittee press release states.

"The Webb Telescope creates 2,000 jobs and will lead to the kind of innovation and discovery that have made America great," said Maryland Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski on her Senate website. "It will inspire America's next generation of scientists and innovators that will have the new ideas that lead to new products and new jobs."

Mikulski is an outspoken supporter for the continuation of the JWST despite an earlier move by a Republican-dominated House subcommittee to scrap the JWST. The House subcommittee raised serious concerns about NASA mismanagement of the multi-billion dollar project and ballooning costs. The JWST project is being managed in Mikulski's state.

The Senator announced that the troubled will be allocated $530 million in 2012, substantially more than the $374 million that had been asked for in the president's budget request. Unfortunately, NASA as a whole will receive half a billion dollars less than it received in 2011 -- the agency has been allocated $17.9 billion for 2012.

So, after months of uncertainty, the half-finished and popular space telescope has been saved -- pending a vote on the Senate floor, and assuming the House and Senate bill can find some middle ground -- for another year. But not everyone is popping the champagne corks quite yet.

In the Nature News Blog, American Astronomical Society Executive Officer Kevin Marvel shared his concern that although the JWST may have been saved, there's some concern for what that might mean for other NASA projects.

"It's obviously a hopeful sign," said Marvel. "But we need to understand what the extra addition means. We’re concerned about offsets to other divisions.">>
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Senate Saves JWST

Post by zerro1 » Thu Sep 15, 2011 5:29 am


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Re: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Post by Ann » Thu Sep 15, 2011 5:53 am

Hooray!!!

Barbara Mikulski, eh? That's a girl who goes for science!!! :D :clap: :-D :clap: :-D

(And once more, thanks to another girl of science, geckzilla, who helped me applaud Barbara!) :clap:

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Re: Senate Saves JWST

Post by bystander » Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:06 am

neufer wrote:James Webb Space Telescope Saved?
Discovery News | Ian O'Neill | 2011 Sept 14
zerro1 wrote:Senate Saves the James Webb Space Telescope!
Universe Today | Jason Major | 2011 Sept 14
The 2012 fiscal year appropriation bill, marked up today by the Senate, allows for continued funding of the James Webb Space Telescope and support up to a launch in 2018! Yes, it looks like this bird is going to fly.
...
  • “In a spending bill that has less to spend, we naturally focus on the cuts and the things we can’t do. But I’d like to focus on what we can do. The bill invests more than $12 billion in scientific research and high impact research and technology development, to create new products and new jobs for the future.”

    – CJS Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski
...
Read the bill summary here.
...
  • NOTE: While the JWST program has been specifically included in today’s markup, the bill itself still needs to be approved by the full appropriations committee and then go to the Senate floor for a vote. It then must be reconciled with the House version before receiving final appropriation. Still, this is definitely one step closer to getting the JWST off the ground!

Hope, With 'Stringent' Orders, for NASA's Webb Telescope
Science Insider | Yudhijit Bhattacharjee | 2011 Sept 14
In July, the U.S. House of Representatives cancelled the over-budget and behind-schedule James Webb Space Telescope, sinking the hearts of NASA officials and U.S. astronomers. Today, the U.S. Senate threw the project a lifeline, reviving hopes that the $6.5 billion instrument will eventually be completed and launched.

Marking up NASA's budget this afternoon, the Senate appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies allocated $530 million for the Webb telescope out of a total NASA budget of $17.9 billion, which is $509 million less than the 2011 level. The Senate panel's support for Webb does not come as a surprise to anyone. The chairperson of the panel, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), has long been a champion of the project, which is based in her state, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

In remarks delivered at the markup today, Mikulski noted that although her panel wanted to continue funding for the telescope, it also wanted NASA to be more accountable in executing the project. "We have added stringent language, limiting development costs" and insisted on "a report from NASA senior management, ensuring that the NASA has gotten its act together in managing the telescope," she said.

The allocation in today's markup does not automatically mean that the Webb telescope has been rescued. The markup will now go to the full appropriations committee for approval before going to the Senate floor for a vote. The approved bill will then have to be reconciled with the House version, which, NASA hopes, will result in a final appropriation that keeps the telescope alive.

The Senate has “saved” JWST? Hang on a sec, folks…
Discover Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2011 Sept 15
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GSFC: Webb Telescope Completes Mirror-Coating Milestone

Post by bystander » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:09 am

NASA's Webb Telescope Completes Mirror-Coating Milestone
NASA GSFC JWST | 2011 Sept 13
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has reached a major milestone in its development. The mirrors that will fly aboard the telescope have completed the coating process at Quantum Coating Inc. in Moorestown, N.J.

The telescope's mirrors have been coated with a microscopically thin layer of gold, selected for its ability to properly reflect infrared light from the mirrors into the observatory’s science instruments. The coating allows the Webb telescope's "infrared eyes" to observe extremely faint objects in infrared light. Webb’s mission is to observe the most distant objects in the universe.

"Finishing all mirror coatings on schedule is another major success story for the Webb telescope mirrors," said Lee Feinberg, NASA Optical Telescope Element manager for the Webb telescope at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "These coatings easily meet their specifications, ensuring even more scientific discovery potential for the Webb telescope."

The Webb telescope has 21 mirrors, with 18 mirror segments working together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) primary mirror. The mirror segments are made of beryllium, which was selected for its stiffness, light weight and stability at cryogenic temperatures. Bare beryllium is not very reflective of near-infrared light, so each mirror is coated with about 0.12 ounce of gold.

The last full size (4.9-foot /1.5-meter) hexagonal beryllium primary mirror segment that will fly aboard the observatory recently was coated, completing this stage of mirror production.

The Webb telescope is the world’s next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Webb telescope will provide images of the first galaxies ever formed, and explore planets around distant stars. It is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Mirror manufacturing began eight years ago with blanks made out of beryllium, an extremely hard metal that holds its shape in the extreme cold of space where the telescope will orbit. Mirror coating began in June 2010. Several of the smaller mirrors in the telescope, the tertiary mirror and the fine steering mirror, were coated in 2010. The secondary mirror was finished earlier this year.

Quantum Coating Inc. (QCI) is under contract to Ball Aerospace and Northrop Grumman. QCI constructed a new coating facility and clean room to coat the large mirror segments. QCI developed the gold coating for performance in certain areas, such as uniformity, cryogenic cycling, durability, stress and reflectance, in a two-year effort prior to coating the first flight mirror.

In the process, gold is heated to its liquid point, more than 2,500 Fahrenheit (1,371 degrees Celsius), and evaporates onto the mirror's optical surface. The coatings are 120 nanometers, a thickness of about a millionth of an inch or 200 times thinner than a human hair.

"We faced many technical challenges on the Webb mirror coating program,” said Ian Stevenson, director of coating at Quantum Coating. “One of the most daunting was that all flight hardware runs had to be executed without a single failure."

The mirror segments recently were shipped to Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colo., where actuators are attached that help move the mirror. From there, the segments travel to the X-ray and Calibration Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., to undergo a final test when they will be chilled to -400 Fahrenheit (-240 degrees Celsius). The last batch of six flight mirrors should complete the test by the end of this year.

James Webb Space Telescope Nearing Completion
Universe Today | Jason Rhian | 2011 Sept 02
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
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Re: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Post by geckzilla » Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:34 am

Now that's a machine I can appreciate.
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James Webb

Post by orin stepanek » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:22 pm

Full scale model of James Webb Telescope to be on Baltimore.
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archiv ... ormat/web/
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Re: James Webb

Post by orin stepanek » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:24 pm

orin stepanek wrote:Full scale model of James Webb Telescope to be on Baltimore.
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archiv ... ormat/web/

View this image
Baltimore's Maryland Science Center is going to be the "landing site" for the full-scale model of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, and it's free for all to see.

The Webb telescope life-sized model is as big as a tennis court, and it's coming to the Maryland Science Center at Baltimore's Inner Harbor from October 14 through 26, 2011. It's a chance for young and old to get a close-up look at the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope in the same size it will be launched into space.

The real James Webb Space Telescope is currently being built, but this model will be constructed in a couple of days. The real Webb will be the largest space telescope ever built. Once in orbit, the Webb telescope will look back in time more than 13 billion years to help us understand the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets.

Experts will be on hand to discuss the Webb telescope's deep-space mission, how it will observe distant galaxies and nearby stars and planets, and the progress made to date in building the observatory. Spokespeople will also be available starting at 10 a.m. EDT and throughout the model exhibition. There will also be educational activities and an "Ask the Scientist" booth in front of the model during the daytime.

The Maryland Science Center is located at 601 Light Street, Baltimore, Md. 21230. For directions and more information, call the center at 410-685-5225.

The full-scale model of the Webb telescope was built by NASA's prime contractor to provide a better understanding of the size, scale, and complexity of the observatory. The model is constructed mainly of aluminum and steel, weighs 12,000 pounds, and is approximately 80 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 40 feet tall. The model requires two trucks to ship it, and assembly takes a crew of 12 approximately four days.

The Webb telescope will add to observations by earlier space telescopes, and stretch the frontiers of science with its discoveries. The model's size shows the telescope's complexity and how the observatory will enable the Webb telescope's unique mission.

For more images and video, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/nasalife/fea ... balto.html

For more information about the James Webb Space Telescope, visit:
http://webbtelescope.org/webb_telescope
http://www.jwst.nasa.gov

For a sped-up video of the construction of the Webb full-scale model, visit:
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a0 ... index.html
View on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbCBeq2Rz9Q

CONTACT
Dwayne Brown/Trent Perrotto
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-0321
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov / trent.j.perrotto@nasa.gov

Lynn Chandler
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
301-286-2806
lynn.chandler-1@nasa.gov

Ray Villard / Cheryl Gundy
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
410-338-4514 / 410-338-4707
villard@stsci.edu / gundy@stsci.edu
Orin

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JWST alive & well

Post by neufer » Sat Nov 19, 2011 3:42 am

http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00003269/ wrote:
NASA's Budget for 2012 Is Set--Worry About 2013 Budget Begins
The Planetary Society Blog By Charlene Anderson: Nov. 18, 2011

<<It's done. The U.S. President has signed the Appropriations bill for NASA's fiscal year 2012 budget. The fight on the FY12 budget is over. The top line budget for NASA is $17.8 billion. While this is $648 million less than last year's level and $924 below what the President requested for FY12, it is far better than the $16.8 billion proposed earlier this year by the House of Representatives.

There are winners (James Webb Space Telescope, Space Launch System, Multipurpose Crew Vehicle), casualties (Commercial Crew, Space Technology), and those who slipped only a little (Planetary Science, Earth Science.)

Planetary Society Members who raised their voices may not see all their wishes fulfilled in this budget, but you can take pride in knowing that you were heard and made a difference. Considering all the pressures – economic recession, U.S. federal deficit – the science and exploration we support came out pretty well.

If you would like a detailed summary of the "minibus" (as opposed to omnibus) bill, try this link to download the summary:
http://appropriations.house.gov/Uploade ... ummary.pdf

The budget saga of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has attracted the most popular attention. In early skirmishing, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a budget that would have cancelled the big telescope in response to cost overruns and schedule delays. The Senate, with Barbara Mikulski of Maryland leading the charge, then approved a budget that provided JWST some $150 million more than NASA had requested.

In the arm-wrestling that followed between the House and Senate, the Senate prevailed. JWST is alive and well and moving forward. That's great news for astrophysics and those of us who love those imagination-stretching images from deep space.

Now, we're turning our attention to the FY 2013 budget, which is being laid out by the White House and its Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Those numbers are not yet available, although speculation abounds. NASA will probably get its "passback" from OMB around Thanksgiving and will get a chance to work the numbers before the President's Budget Request is sent to Congress in early February next year.

We will be closely watching what happens with NASA's Mars program. There are two missions – to launch in 2016 and 2018 -- now in the pipeline, both to be conducted in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). Recently, NASA backed out of a commitment to launch the 2016 mission, saying it couldn't afford it. ESA then asked the Russian space agency to come aboard as a partner in return for providing the launch. Russia has not yet responded.

Planetary scientists are apprehensive about what the FY 2013 budget will provide for these planned Mars missions, which would begin a campaign to return samples of the Red Planet to Earth. There is speculation that OMB is reluctant to commit to a series of missions culminating in Mars sample return, which was given top priority as a flagship-category mission by the decadal study recently completed by the planetary science community.>>
Last edited by neufer on Sat Nov 19, 2011 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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