Even though the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) will receive its final servicing by astronauts later this year, this icon of astronomy for the past two decades is likely to go out of service within the next 4-5 years. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is regarded as the successor to the HST, and Canadian scientists are providing key elements to this new "eye in the sky". Details of the Canadian contributions to the JWST will be discussed next Thursday at noon, during the annual meeting of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) in Victoria (BC).

The JWST will be 8 times larger than Hubble and will be by far the most powerful facility for astronomy ever built. JWST is a NASA-led mission, partnering with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). It will be launched in 2013 into an orbit 4 times beyond the moon, far from the light and heat of the Earth, and shielded from the sun by a tennis-court-sized sunshade.

The JWST will observe in infrared light to find the first stars that formed in the Universe, and also to study the formation of new stars and planets in dusty regions of space. By opening new technical windows for observation it will most likely also discover many things not yet imagined by astronomers.

There will be four science instruments on board, and Canada is providing one of them. Canada is also providing the Fine Guidance System - a precise camera that will allow the telescope to point very accurately and achieve the sharp resolution it is designed for.

The CSA's prime contractor is ComDev, and the science team is led by John Hutchings from the Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics (HIA) in Victoria (BC) and René Doyon of the Université de Montréal (Montréal, QC).

When the JWST starts its science operations, Canadian scientists will have access to team science programs and also have a guaranteed minimum of 5% of all observing time for the duration of the mission.


Professor René Doyon
Université de Montréal
Phone: (514) 343-6111 x3204

EDITORS: An illustration of JWST is available at: