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NIRISS, Canada's exoplanet specialist on the James Webb Space Telescope - Infographic


The James Webb Space Telescope will be the most important space observatory of the next decade, serving astronomers from all over the world. One of the two Canadian elements on the James Webb Space Telescope, the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), was designed specifically to study the starlight streaming through exoplanet atmospheres and determine their composition. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

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The Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) is designed to help astronomers hunt for exoplanets and study their atmospheres in a search for life beyond our solar system.

Detection: Gathers real images of distant solar systems to discover exoplanets

Observation: Closely monitors exoplanets as they pass in front of their host stars, to gather the spectrum of light that filters through their atmosphere

Analysis: Helps determine an exoplanet's potential for life by revealing the presence of oxygen, carbon dioxide, or methane

What can NIRISS reveal about exoplanets?

  • Composition
  • Temperature
  • Habitability

What is a spectrum?

A spectrum refers to all types of light energy gathered from a celestial object. When starlight filters through a planet's atmosphere, some of it is absorbed. Measuring the remaining light can reveal chemical clues of life that may exist on these faraway worlds.

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