JWST involves international cooperation between Nasa, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency to investigate the origin and evolution of galaxies, stars and planetary systems.
Although the new space telescope is designed to operate over a different range of wavelengths, it is considered as the successor to Hubble. JWST is due to launch in 2013 and will operate for at least five years.
Four sophisticated instruments, including a fine guidance sensor for precision pointing, will combine greatly enhanced imaging capability at visible and infrared wavelengths.
JWST will also offer spectroscopic modes to learn more about the chemistry and evolution of the objects populating our universe.
The telescope will be located well outside Earth's atmosphere at a point in deep space called the second Lagrangian point at 1.5 million kilometres in the opposite direction to the Sun.
From this location, the powerful space observatory promises to revolutionise our view of the cosmos yet again, just as Hubble did.
Nasa will have overall responsibility for the management and operation of the JWST mission, and will build the spacecraft, telescope and the platform that will host the instruments. ESA will provide the launch with an Ariane 5 ECA rocket.
Nasa will also provide one major instrument, the Near-Infrared Camera via the University of Arizona, and ESA will provide the Near-Infrared spectrograph operating over similar wavelengths.
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