From the edge of the Oort cloud, the Sun isn’t even the brightest star in the sky. Nonetheless, what appears as a largely unremarkable pinpoint of light, tens of trillions of kilometers away, tenuously but reliably governs the motion of each and every object therein.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope. The project is working to a 2018 launch date. JWST will find the first galaxies that formed in the early Universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own Milky Way Galaxy. JWST will peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems, connecting the Milky Way to our own Solar System. JWST’s instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range.
This image shows how JWST will be folded and stowed in the Ariane 5 spacecraft. JWST’s solar panel is deployed about 1/2 hour after launch to provide power for the mission. The rest of the deployments take place in the next several days en route to it’s final destination in L2.
JWST will have a large mirror, 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in diameter and a sunshield the size of a tennis court. Both the mirror and sunshade won’t fit onto a rocket fully open, so both will fold up and open once Webb is in outer space. JWST will reside in an orbit about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from the Earth.
The James Webb Space Telescope was named after the NASA Administrator who crafted the Apollo program, and who was a staunch supporter of space science.
To read more about JWST go to: www.jwst.nasa.gov/
On this day in 1925, The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes court case, more commonly known as the “Scopes Monkey Trial” came to a close. John Scopes, a 24 year old science teacher, was found guilty of violating the Butler Act, which made it unlawful to “teach any theory that denies the story of divine creation as taught by the Bible and to teach instead that man was descended from a lower order of animals.” He was fined $100. A guilty verdict was welcomed and encouraged by the defense throughout the trial in order that the case be appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court. It was hoped that taking the case to the Supreme Court would result in a ruling that found the ban on the teaching of evolution unconstitutional, overturning the Butler Act. Before that goal could be achieved, the guilty ruling was overturned on a technicality and the case dismissed, clearing Scopes of all charges and making an appeal impossible. The failure of the case to reach the Supreme Court marked a major setback in the fight for truth in public education.
Volcano Erupts on Jupiter’s Moon Io
This five-frame sequence of New Horizons images captures the giant plume from Io’s Tvashtar volcano. Snapped by the probe’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) as the spacecraft flew past Jupiter earlier this year, this first-ever “movie” of an Io plume clearly shows motion in the cloud of volcanic debris, which extends 330 kilometers (200 mi) above the moon’s surface. Only the upper part of the plume is visible from this vantage point — the plume’s source is 130 kilometers (80 mi) below the edge of Io’s disk, on the far side of the moon…
(read more: Jet Propulsion Laboratory/NASA)
(image: Johns Hopkins Univ./APL)