Wallpaper Wednesday

8 06 2011
James Webb Telescope Wallpaper

James Webb Space Telescope Wallpaper

Okay, I admit this isn’t the most stunning wallpaper but the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is on my mind today since NPR played their story on the cost of the instrument over and over and over this a.m.

As the wallpaper suggests, the JWST is going to be searching for the earliest galaxies, observing the formation of stars from the earliest stages to the development of planetary systems, and looking for signs of life in planetary systems. The telescope is designed to make its observations in the infrared (with limited capability for observations in the visible range of the spectrum) and will carry four separate instruments to do so: the Near InfraRed Camera (NIRCam), the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRSpec), the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), and the Fine Guidance Sensor Tunable Filter Camera (FGS-TFI). We already make infrared observations from Earth-based telescopes (at the Keck and Mauna Kea Observatories in Hawaii, for instance), but even at those high altitudes, the earth’s atmosphere can cause blurring. Thus, the need for a telescope outside our atmosphere, 1.5 million km outside our atmosphere, in this case.

To get the wallpaper, click the image and scroll down the downloads page. To get instructions for building a paper model of the telescope, visit the model page. To follow the telescope on twitter, look for @NASAWebbTelescp.