Canada and the James Webb Space Telescope

About The James Webb Space Telescope

  • Mission goals: Search for the earliest stars and galaxies; map the evolution of galaxies; study the formation of stars and planets in the Universe today; and search for the potential for life in the Universe.
  • Launch: October 2018 on an Ariane 5 ECA rocket from the European Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana.
  • Destination: Orbiting 1.5 million km from Earth at the gravitationally stable Second Lagrangian Point (L2), four times as far away from Earth as the Moon.
  • Length of mission: 5 years required; 10 years goal
  • Science instruments: 1. Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), provided by the European Consortium with the European Space Agency (ESA), and by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); 2. the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) provided by the University of Arizona; 3. Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), provided by ESA, with components provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center; and 4. Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS)/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) (FGS/NIRISS) provided by the Canadian Space Agency.
  • Size of the Sunshield: 21.2 m x 14.2 m, roughly the size of a tennis court.
  • Primary mirror: 6.5 metres in diameter, composed of 18 hexagonal segments, each coated with a microscopically think layer of gold to maximize infrared light. Total mass: 705 kg. Seven times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope's mirror. Over two stories high, but designed to fold up inside the rocket that will launch the telescope, then open like a flower once in space.
  • Mass: about 6500 kg
  • Operating temperature: Approximately 40 Kelvin (-233 degrees Celsius)
  • Partners: NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Canada and the Webb

  • The Canadian Space Agency's contribution: a two-in-one instrument known as the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) and the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS).
  • FGS: the Webb's guider, will allow the telescope to determine its position, place its celestial targets precisely for its instruments, and remain pointed
  • NIRISS: will have unique capabilities for finding the most distant objects, and discovering and characterizing planets in other solar systems. Location on the telescope: inside the Integrated Science Instrument Module, just behind the telescope's vertical primary mirror.
  • Size: 80 kg, 0.76 m x 1.2 m x 0.7 m—roughly the size of a kitchen range
  • Prime Contractor: COM DEV International in Ottawa and Cambridge, Ontario
  • Principal Investigators: Dr John Hutchings of the National Research Council of Canada and Dr René Doyon, Professor of Physics from the Université de Montréal.
  • Science team members are from: COM DEV; the National Research Council of Canada; Saint Mary's University; the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI); the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich); the Université de Montréal; the University of Rochester; and the University of Toronto.
  • The Canadian Space Agency's investment: $146 million over 10 years in the design, and building and science support for FGS-NIRISS.