‘First Light’ Instrument Ready to Ship
One of Europe’s main contributions to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is built and ready to ship to the US. The Mid-Infrared Instrument (Miri) will gather key data as the $9 billion observatory seeks to identify the first starlight in the Universe.
James Webb – regarded as the successor to Hubble – is due to launch in 2018. It will carry a 6.5m primary mirror (more than double the width of Hubble’s main mirror), and a shield the size of a tennis court to guard its sensitive vision from the heat and strong light of our Sun. The observatory has been tasked with tracking down the very first luminous objects in the cosmos – groupings of the first generation of stars to burst into life. To do so, Webb will use its infrared detectors to look deeper into space than Hubble, and further back in time – to a period more than 13 billion years ago.