Science Systems Engineering for JWST - Why are we building it like this?


  • Dr. John C. Mather will review the major scientific objectives for JWST, and how they drove the mission concept and detailed design trades. Key technical requirements include aperture, wavelength range, and sensitivity, which imply choices about orbit, cooling technology, deployment, and hardware technologies, with implications for possible servicing, launch vehicle, communications, orbit control, etc. Lessons learned from other missions, especially the Hubble Space Telescope, include the need and ability for on-orbit focusing and wavefront adjustment, and robust test programs to minimize risks when servicing is impossible. He will describe the scientific requirements, how they were chosen, and how they are still valid after 16 years of study, despite rapid scientific progress and especially the discovery of thousands exoplanets, and the cosmic dark energy. Dr. Mather will close with some speculation on possible discoveries that the JWST might enable.