Now reading: Fascinating facts about NASA’s next big thing

Take a self-guided tour from quantum to cosmos!

Fascinating facts about NASA’s next big thing

The James Webb Space Telescope will be an incredible new eyepiece on the universe.

jwst image

For decades, the Hubble Space Telescope has given humanity an incredible eyepiece on the universe, but it is beginning to reach its limits.

To gaze deeper into the cosmos than ever before, next year NASA will launch the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be 100 times more powerful than Hubble.

It is a machine of incredible sensitiity and complexity – a feat that “comes up to the edge of impossible engineering,” says Amber Straughn, a NASA scientist who delivered a public lecture about the telescope at Perimeter Institute earlier this month.

We asked Straughn to share some of her favourite factoids about the telescope, and we sleuthed out some of our own. Here they are, along with clips of Straughn explaining some of the more mind-boggling aspects of NASA’s next great telescope.

JWST resolution

James Webb Canadian

JWST distance

Watch Amber Straughn explain why Hubble orbits at such a great distance:

big bang james webb

Size of JWST

Watch Amber Straughn explain why the James Webb Space Telescope is so large:

JWST Sunshield

Sunshield Webb

James Webb Telescope gold

Watch Amber Straughn explain the “incredible precision” of the James Webb Space Telescope’s mirrors:

Jwst unfolding

Watch Amber Straughn describe the “two weeks of terror” of the James Webb Space Telescope’s unfolding process:

James Webb Mather

JWST Star Destroyer

Watch Amber Straughn’s full Perimeter Institute Public Lecture:

Sign up to receive alerts about public lectures, Slices of PI, and much more.


For quantum gravity specialist and author Lee Smolin, Albert Einstein’s greatest strength didn’t lie in numbers.

/Nov 17, 2015

Get your fill of pi (videos) to celebrate Pi Day, including great short videos from Hank Green, James Grime, Veritasium and Physics Girl, Matt Parker, and (of course) Perimeter Institute.

/Mar 14, 2017

Curiosity, ambition, and a willingness to embrace uncertainty are rewarded in STEM careers, speakers tell teens at Inspiring Future Women in Science day.

/Mar 24, 2017