Behind the Webb Podcast

  • October 29, 2015

    Episode 29: Working Stiff

    by Mary Estacion

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    Shownotes

    The James Webb Space Telescope needs to be kept as cold as possible in order to detect infrared light from faint and very distant objects. A key component of this is the observatory’s tennis court-sized sunshield, which obstructs the warmth of the Sun.  In this episode of "Behind the Webb," engineers add special structures to the sunshield that shape it to best reflect heat.

  • September 23, 2015

    Episode 28: Strong and Steady

    by Mary Estacion

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    Shownotes

    Because the Webb Telescope will be launched into space and operate in an extremely cold environment, it needs to be built with materials that are both lightweight and stable. It needs to maintain its shape despite a range of temperatures. One of the science instruments on the telescope, NIRSPEC, or Near Infrared Spectrograph, is largely made from a ceramic known as silicon carbide. This episode of Behind the Webb takes us on a journey from the origins of this special material to how it's incorporated into the next great space observatory.

  • August 19, 2015

    Episode 27: Cosmic Shutterbug

    by Mary Estacion

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    Shownotes

    This episode of "Behind the Webb" explores the multi-tasking capabilities of one of the cameras on the Webb Space Telescope, the Near-Infrared Spectrograph. Newly designed technology known as "microshutters" – tens of thousands of tiny shutters that open and close to allow only the light from targeted objects to enter the instrument – enables scientists to study the spectrum of more than one galaxy at a time. As many as 100 objects can be simultaneously observed.