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Astronomy

Mark Clampin: Team effort paying off as JWST nears completion

The most powerful ever built, the James Webb Space Telescope is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

7 October 2016, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/3.201610.04

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large infrared telescope that 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.  JWST is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center managing the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate JWST after launch.

Several innovative technologies have been developed for JWST. These include a 6.5-meter primary mirror made of 18 separate segments that unfold and adjust to shape after launch. The mirrors are made of ultra-lightweight beryllium. The telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in October of 2018.

Mark Clampin is currently the JWST Observatory Project Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, MD). Prior to joining the JWST project, he was a member of the science staff at the Space Telescope Science Institute, where he served first as an Instrument Scientist for WFPC2, followed by STIS, and then as the Advanced Camera for Surveys Group manager from its inception to the completion of orbital verification of the instrument. Prior to joining STScI, he developed adaptive optics technologies for coronagraphs at the Johns Hopkins University.

Clampin is a Fellow of SPIE and serves as the editor of the SPIE Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments and Systems. He served as chair of the conference on Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave at the 2016 SPIE Astronomical Telescopes symposium, and served as symposium chair in 2006 and 2008. He has published more than 90 papers in SPIE journals and proceedings. He was interviewed for SPIE Newsroom in late April 2016, just after completion of the mirror assembly at NASA Goddard. 

(Images in video courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)