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Reflecting on Webb's Progress
by Talya Lerner for Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Feb 04, 2014

Sen. Mikulski, Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese and Administrator Bolden chat, via video from a Goddard clean room, with Paul Geithner, the James Webb Space Telescope's technical deputy project manager as Goddard employees and other officials look on. Image courtesy NASA Goddard/Rebecca Roth.

As the James Webb Space Telescope scientists and engineers continue to move forward with the observatory's pre-launch testing and assembly, the NASA community is excited to see the outstanding work accomplished so far.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., held an employee event on Feb. 3, 2014, to share this progress. The main auditorium filled to capacity with NASA employees, as well as top officials from Northrop Grumman, Ball Aerospace and Technologies, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, the Canadian Space Agency and others to hear the strides the Webb team has made.

Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese welcomed everyone and acknowledged that, "Without their leadership, we wouldn't be here today," he said. "They have taken Webb from the beginning to the really great state it is in today."

The two other esteemed guests who joined Scolese on stage were NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. Bolden shared his excitement and admiration for the scientists and engineers working hard to keep Webb on-budget and on-target for the much-anticipated launch date, scheduled for no earlier than 2018.

"The recent completion of the critical design review for Webb, and the delivery of all its instruments to Goddard, mark significant progress for this mission," Bolden said.

Mikulski, a long-time NASA supporter, said she was proud and happy to see how far NASA has come with the telescope. In her role, Mikulski has helped secure funding for NASA so scientists and engineers can continue to push the envelope with their innovation and hard work. "My goal is to help you be you," she said. "May the force continue to be with you."

Guests also had the opportunity to see a live tour, through video feed, of the clean room that houses the hardware for Webb. They saw the 18 primary mirror segments that will soon be assembled on the Webb telescope. Paul Geithner, deputy project manager for Webb and tour guide explained the various parts of the telescope housed at Goddard.

Among the instruments was the University of Arizona's Near-Infrared Camera, which will be Webb's primary camera and collect images of some of the very first stars and galaxies that formed in our universe. Another instrument, European Space Agency's Near-Infrared Spectrograph analyzes the composition of various astronomical objects.

Next, Geithner showed the European Space Agency-provided Mid-Infrared Instrument. The instrument has both a camera and a spectrograph, which can see light in the mid-infrared, a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye can't see.

The last instrument shown on the tour was the Canadian Space Agency's Fine Guidance Sensor and Near-infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph. This will allow Webb to point as precisely as possible at its targets to obtain the highest-quality images possible. It will also provide another method for investigating both the distant universe and closer, recently discovered exoplanets.

These components, once assembled and launched will contribute to the Webb telescope's discovery of amazing things. "This is the promise of JWST," Geithner said.


Related Links
James Webb Space Telescope
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