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The Webb Update #3 - April 2007

Welcome to the third issue of the Webb update, a newsletter to update the community about the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).  JWST will be the next flagship astrophysics mission for NASA and is planned for launch in 2014. A text version of this newsletter is emailed to a subscriber list when it is released. If you would like to subscribe to the email newsletter, please visit our main Newsletter page for information on how to subscribe.

In this newsletter:

Meeting Announcement - Astrophysics in the Next Decade: JWST and Concurrent Facilities

Meeting poster GSFC and STScI are hosting a science meeting on Sept 24-27, 2007 with the goal of engaging the international community in discussions of the astrophysical studies (observational and theoretical) enabled by JWST and other new facilities and capabilities in the decade 2010-2020. The talks will emphasize astronomical observations from the visible to the sub-millimeter.  However, the Science Organizing Committee (SOC) encourages discussions of key science goals enabled by dramatic new capabilities in other bands, particularly when these goals are complementary to those of JWST observers. 

To maximize broad community participation, the SOC has invited internationally respected speakers and active researchers who are not necessarily associated with the JWST mission or its Science Working Group.

Registration for the meeting, which is being held at the Starr Pass Marriott, Tucson Arizona, will be limited to approximately 300 scientists. To obtain more information on the meeting and to register for the meeting on-line, go to


Harvey Moseley wins the Weber Award

photo of Moseley

Dr. Harvey Moseley, the PI for the JWST Microshutter Subsystem has won the American Astronomical Society (AAS) 2007 Joseph Weber award for instrumentation.  Dr. Moseley is a Senior Astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.


Dr. Moseley has received the award for his extraordinary contributions for over two decades to the development of astronomical detectors covering a huge wavelength range from X-rays to the sub-millimeter. These detectors have been used in some of NASA’s most successful space missions, from the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) to Spitzer.

He is currently working on the microshutter technology for JWST.   Micro shutters are tiny cells that measure 100 by 200 microns, or about the width of three to six human hairs.  They will be used on the Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument on JWST and enable multi-object slit spectroscopy from space for the first time.

Read the full story on Dr. Moseley's award.


Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) concludes Critical Design Review (CDR) for the Optical System

MIRI The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) team completed a major milestone in February by successfully concluding the Critical Design Review (CDR) for the Optical System. The review was conducted over a two month period by an independent team of subject-matter experts from NASA and ESA, who judged the MIRI design against a detailed list of success criteria.  The review team concluded unanimously that the objectives of the CDR had been satisfied.

The MIRI Optical System is a cryogenic optical assembly which includes a camera providing wide-field broadband imagery, and a spectrograph providing medium-resolution spectroscopy.  In combination with the large aperture of the JWST telescope, MIRI will provide a thousand-fold increase in mid-infrared (5-28.5 microns) sensitivity over existing ground-based telescopes and nearly a hundredfold increase over the Spitzer observatory.  MIRI is being developed by a team from the Jet Propulsion Lab and a European Consortium of space agencies.

MIRI now moves into the flight-unit fabrication and test phase.  It will be delivered to the Goddard Space Flight Center in late 2009.


New Technologies for JWST pass the “Technical Non-Advocate Review”

A team of independent experts commissioned by NASA to assess the status of new JWST technologies has concluded that all of the mission-critical technologies have been successfully tested in a space-like environment. The technologies that passed this test are near and mid-infrared detectors, sunshield materials, lightweight cryogenic mirrors, microshutter arrays, cryogenic detector readout application-specific integrated circuits (shown below), cryogenic heat switches, a large precision cryogenic structure, wavefront sensing and control, and a cryocooler for MIRI.

Cryogenic Data Acquisition Integrated Circuit NASA conducted the Technology Non-Advocate Review more than one year prior to the mission preliminary design review to determine if the new technologies were ready for incorporation into the mission design. The purpose of early technology investment and a mid-term readiness assessment is to reduce the risk of increased costs and schedule delays before the program is approved for further development.