On July 12, NASA revealed the first images of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), often called the successor of the Hubble Space Telescope. JWST will look farther back in time and space than ever before. But the giant telescope could also be turned to targets in our cosmic backyard, like planets and asteroids in our solar system, and nearby stars, to detect planetary systems in formation and exoplanets.
Bigger and more potent in the infrared than any space observatory ever launched, JWST will see the very first stars and galaxies, answering critical questions about the formation and structure of our universe. However, more importantly for astrobiology, its powerful eyes will also scan exoplanets in the search for building blocks of life beyond our doorstep, revealing the way planetary systems form and uncover secrets hidden within our solar system.
To discuss the potential of JWST and its complex instruments, we invited two researchers from the Space Science Institute in Baltimore, MD. Christine Chen, an associate astronomer who studies the formation and evolution of planetary systems, and John Stansberry, instrument scientist for the NIRCAM instrument who also studies distant Kuiper Belt Object in our solar system. Andy Skemer, Associate Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and Co-PI of the JWST Early Release Science Program for exoplanet imaging, will bring an exoplanet perspective to the discussion.
Hosted by SETI Institute senior astronomer Franck Marchis.
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