The James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) will be the largest, most powerful and complex space telescope ever built and launched into space. Launching from French Guiana on December 18, 2021, NASA and its international partners want to help you celebrate this generational moment in our common exploration of the wider universe, through in-person or virtual events. NASA can support museums, science centers, planetariums, public libraries, nature centers, visitor’s centers, zoos, art galleries, community centers, and other non-profit organizations that communicate or wish to communicate science to the public. NASA can help connect host venues to trainings about Webb and the telescope’s launch process and science, as well as to subject matter experts to best engage with audiences either in person (where possible) or virtually. In addition, hard-copy event materials and handouts can be shipped to participating locations as resources allow.
The James Webb Space Telescope is an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the legacy of earlier space-based telescopes to push the boundaries of human knowledge even further, to the formation of the first galaxies and the horizons of other worlds.
As Webb is scheduled to launch on December 18, 2021 and prepares to begin science operations over the following several months, NASA will provide support to communities everywhere to help you join in celebrating this generational event. Webb’s launch and commissioning, culminating in the release of fabulous new images in Summer 2022, represents a unique opportunity to engage your community through some of humanity’s biggest questions: How does the Universe work? How did we get here? Are we alone?
Webb will be the premier observatory of the next decade. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe. Our goal is that with your help, Webb’s launch and commissioning will captivate and inspire a new generation of space science enthusiasts, reaching a broader, more diverse audience than ever before.
Any museum, science center, planetarium, public library, nature center, visitor’s center, community college, or other non-profit organization that communicates or wishes to communicate science to the public, can receive supporting materials. The opportunity is open to venues of all sizes. We particularly encourage institutions that engage populations or communities that are traditionally underrepresented or underserved in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to request support.
Events can be supported for any time between September 2021 through the release of the first images in Summer 2022. There are a number of major milestones for the observatory in the interim as it prepares to begin science operations that you may wish to highlight in your events. In order to connect a Webb subject matter expert to your event, we require at least 2 months between your event date and the request for support. As Webb reaches its orbital destination and prepares to begin science operations, digital resources and activity guides are available for other events you may want to hold around other mission milestones.
Official US Sites:
Training sessions and slides:
Sites receiving support will:
- Have a safety plan, including COVID-19 considerations, as well as a digital back-up plan for in person events
- Work to reach underserved audiences in their communities
- Host an event that is free & open to the public
Example events: PDF with example events
Webb Mission Milestones:
Launch is only the beginning of Webb's long journey before it can begin science operations. As it travels to its final orbit around the Sun, 1 million miles from Earth, the telescope unfold and start readying itself for science!
- December 18 2021 – Launch
- December 2021 / January 2022 – Webb unfolds and reaches its orbital destination
- March 2022 – Webb instruments reach operating temperature, down to 7 degrees above absolute zero
- March/April 2022 – Webb’s many mirror segments align to act as single mirror
- July2022 – Webb releases its first science-quality observations