The James Webb Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope will let NASA peer into deep space to the beginnings of our universe. It will be specially equipped to view infrared light, which escapes from the dust clouds where the first stars and planets formed.

The James Webb Telescope

Comparing mirrors

Webb’s primary mirror’s resolution is acute enough to see details of a penny at 24 miles.

Packed away for launch

The telescope is folded up at launch and automatically deploys to its full size once in space.

Remaining in place

The Webb telescope must remain cold – around -370 degrees – to best observe infrared light. Its orbit will keep it in place relative to the sun and earth.

Seeing green

Costs for the Webb telescope have mounted to an estimated $8.8 billion. How annual funding has grown (scale in millions):

Sources: NASA, Northrop Grumman. Note: Graphic is schematic, not to scale.

Credits: Graphic by Raoul Ranoa, Graphics reporting by Tom Reinken