The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror, scheduled for launch in 2014. JWST will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.
JWST's instruments are designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. JWST will reside in an orbit about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from the Earth. There will be four science instruments on JWST: a near-infrared (IR) camera, a near-IR multi-object spectrograph, a mid-IR instrument, and a tunable filter imager. TheNetherlands contributed to the development of the Mid-Infra-Red Instrument (MIRI), which will provide imaging, spectroscopy and coronagraphy at wavelengths of 5 to 28 µm. The project is an international partnership (50 / 50) between JPL and a nationally funded consortium of European institutes, working with ESA and NASA.
The Netherlands and JWST
The MIRI instrument to which the Netherlands contributes is a partnership between The Netherlands Astronomy Research Collective (NOVA), the Astronomy Technology Centre inEdinburgh and the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg. The design and build of MIRI is led by ASTRON in Dwingeloo in partnership with various other Dutch institutes and universities. TNO was responsible for the calibration of the MIRI instrument.