Behind the Webb Podcast

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    Episode 30: Webb's First Eye Exam

    Engineers demonstrate how they will test the alignment of Webb's mirrors and the path of light through the telescope from end to end.

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    Episode 29: Working Stiff

    Webb's sunshield is carefully designed to reflect as much of the Sun's heat as possible. Find out how engineers mold its shape to accomplish this critical task.

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    Episode 28: Strong and Steady

    The Webb Telescope must be built from special materials that will withstand the harsh environments of space. One of these materials is silicon carbide, being used in Webb’s Near Infrared Spectrograph. Learn more about this strong but lightweight ceramic and how it’s incorporated into the science instrument.

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    Episode 27: Cosmic Shutterbug

    Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph uses tens of thousands of microscopic shutters called “microshutters” to give it the ability to view multiple objects at once.

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    Episode 26: Struttin' Its Stuff

    Engineers are testing how Webb’s secondary mirror, and the struts that hold it, will be deployed in zero gravity.

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    Episode 25: A Perfect Pair

    How will the huge, heavy sections of the James Webb Space Telescope get put together? We travel to Northrop Grumman to find out.

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    Episode 24: The X Factor

    The Webb Telescope will build on the legacy of telescopes that came before. Join us at Marshall Space Flight Center, where Webb's testing takes the same route as one of its predecessors, the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

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    Episode 23: Star Catcher

    Webb's Near-Infrared Camera will be used to study planets and the first galaxies to form after the Big Bang, and to help ready the telescope for observations.

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    Episode 22: 100 Points of Light

    The Near Infrared Spectrograph’s unique multi-object capability will allow it to examine as many as 100 objects at the same time.

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    Episode 21: All Sewn Up

    Webb’s giant sunshield is made out of a special material called Kapton – which isn’t available in huge sizes. Engineers must piece together Kapton pieces to make a whole sunshield.

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    Episode 20: Webb's Shaping Up

    Behind the Webb host Mary Estacion takes us to Huntsville, Alabama, to see how engineers are testing each layer of the sunshield.

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    Episode 19: Spinning a Webb

    The Webb Space Telescope's launch is a short-lived but stressful phase of the mission. Engineers need to make sure the various parts of the spacecraft can withstand the forces involved. Join us at Goddard Space Flight Center, where one of the portions of the Webb Telescope is being subjected to 1.25 times the launch loads it will see.

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    Episode 18: On the Wings of Webb

    The Webb Telescope’s main mirror is too big to fit into a rocket for launch. Visit ATK in Utah to find out how they are building “wings” to the mirror’s structure so that it can fold up for launch and then unfold in space.

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    SXSW Special Edition: Behind the Breaking of a Guinness Record

    A Guinness World Record for the largest astronomy lesson was set alongside the full-scale model of the Webb Telescope at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Go behind the scenes of this record-breaking event.

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    SXSW Special Edition: Shedding Light on the Webb

    At the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, the full-scale model of the Webb Telescope is a sight to see both during the day and at night. For lighting designer Todd Ward, providing the nighttime lighting for the model is like creating art.

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    SXSW Special Edition: NASA’s Exhibit at SXSW

    Visitors to the full-size Webb Telescope model at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, can also stop into the NASA Experience Tent to enjoy a range of activities and exhibits about the telescope, infrared light, and the universe that Webb will explore.

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    SXSW Special Edition: Preparations at SXSW

    The full-size model of the Webb Telescope and a variety of exhibits about Webb come to life in Austin, Texas, in preparation for a three-day residency at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival.

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    SXSW Special Edition: Preview of SXSW 2013

    The innovative Webb Telescope comes to Austin, Texas, for the annual South by Southwest festival, famous for showcasing innovations in film, music, and technology.

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    Episode 17: Third Light's the Charm

    Webb's tertiary mirror might be smaller than the telescope's primary and secondary mirrors, but it's just as important for corralling light from the universe. Visit Ball Aerospace in Colorado to find out what Webb's tertiary mirror will do and how it is being tested.

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    Episode 16: Canada's Dynamic Duo

    Visit the Canadian Space Agency for a look at Webb's Fine Guidance Sensor/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph. This instrument will help point the telescope and examine the light from distant objects, gleaning information about both stars and extrasolar planets.