Behind the Wings ®
The Podcast – S2, Episode 14

Explore the James Webb Space Telescope and the impact it will have on our understanding of the universe.

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In this episode of Behind the Wings, we are talking about the James Webb Space Telescope! A next generation deep-space telescope that NASA launched in December 2021. It’s the most powerful telescope ever built, with the ability to see further and clearer into space than any previous telescope. It’s advanced design, sensors, and technology will allow it to time travel to some of the first galaxies that formed, learn about exoplanets that could be capable of supporting life.

We are joined by Lee Feinberg, the Optical Telescope Element Manager for the James Webb Space Telescope. Lee shares with us the fascinating story of how he became involved with the project and the challenges he and his team faced in developing the telescope. He discusses the cutting-edge technology being used in the construction of the James Webb Space Telescope and the groundbreaking science it will enable us to explore. Tune in to learn more about this exciting project and the impact it will have on our understanding of the universe.

There is a LOT to explore with this one, and the scientific research is only really just getting started. This one is going to be cool!

Key Takeaways:

  • One of the main design challenges for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was creating a large, lightweight mirror that could withstand the extreme temperatures of space.
  • Another significant challenge was developing a sunshield to block out heat from the sun and allow the telescope to operate at the extremely low temperatures necessary for its infrared observations.
  • The JWST’s primary mirror is made up of 18 hexagonal mirror segments that work together to provide a large field of view.
  • The sunshield is made of five layers of a special material called Kapton, which is able to withstand extreme temperatures and protect the telescope’s instruments.
  • The JWST’s deployment used a robotic arm to unfold the sunshield and the primary mirror. The deployment went so smoothly that JWST has extra fuel that could expand its lifespan.
  • The telescope’s instruments include a camera, a spectrograph, and a coronagraph, all of which are designed to study the infrared light from distant objects.
  • The JWST has been designed to study a wide range of astronomical phenomena, including the formation of stars and planets, the evolution of galaxies, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy.
  • The JWST’s discoveries include the first direct images of exoplanets, the study of the formation of the first galaxies, and the search for biosignatures on exoplanets.
  • The JWST’s advanced capabilities will provide new insights into the origins of life and the evolution of the universe.
  • The JWST launched on Dec 25, 2021 and is be operated by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope website ( is a comprehensive resource for information on the telescope, including its mission, science goals, and current status.
  • The European Space Agency’s James Webb Space Telescope webpage ( provides information on the telescope’s history, development, and scientific capabilities.
  • The Space Telescope Science Institute’s James Webb Space Telescope page ( contains resources for scientists interested in using the telescope, including information on proposal submission and data access.
  • The James Webb Space Telescope’s official Twitter account
  • The James Webb Space Telescope’s Wikipedia page ( provides a summary of the telescope’s history, development, and capabilities. It also includes links to additional resources and references.

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