At a ceremony held Monday at NASA Headquarters in
Washington, NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale and Canadian Space
Agency (CSA) President and Chief Executive Officer Laurier J.
Boisvert signed the official agreement that defines the terms of the
agencies’ cooperation on the James Webb Space Telescope.
According to the agreement, NASA will be responsible for the overall
management and operations of the mission and will build the
spacecraft, the telescope, and the platform that will host the
“We’re delighted to have the Canadian Space Agency’s participation on
the James Webb Telescope,” said Dale. “This unique telescope is a
wonderful example of international cooperation, and Canada is a key
partner in this next major step to discover more about the origins of
The Canadian Space Agency plans to provide the fine guidance sensor
instrument, used for locating and maintaining a fixed pointing on a
guide star. This instrument will provide the observatory with the
stability necessary for taking sharp images with the telescope. The
agency will assist in the operation of the James Webb Space Telescope
and related facilities and arrange for participation of astronomers
from the Canadian science team in the observation program.
“Canada’s collaboration on the James Webb Space Telescope,” Boisvert
said, “strengthens our outstanding and longstanding partnership with
NASA and positions Canadian science and technology in the forefront
of space exploration.”
Although optimized to operate over a different range of wavelengths,
the James Webb Space Telescope is considered to be the successor to
the Hubble Space Telescope. Its launch is targeted for 2013, and the
telescope is designed to operate for at least five years.
The telescope is a mission of international cooperation among NASA,
CSA and the European Space Agency to investigate the origin and
evolution of galaxies, stars and planetary systems.
At the heart of the observatory is a large telescope whose primary
mirror is more than two and a half times larger than that on Hubble,
providing a relatively large field of view. The mirror for the James
Webb Space Telescope is 21.3 ft in diameter; Hubble’s mirror is 7.9
ft. in diameter.
A set of four sophisticated instruments, including the fine guidance
sensor, will combine superb imaging capability at visible and
infrared wavelengths with various spectroscopic modes to learn about
the chemistry and evolution of the objects populating our universe.
The telescope will operate considerably outside the Earth’s atmosphere
at a point in deep space four times farther than the moon’s orbit, in
the direction opposite to the sun. This area, located approximately 1
million miles away, is known as the second Lagrange point. From this
location, the observatory is expected to enable new scientific
discoveries about the cosmos, just as Hubble does.