Science Questions

What image resolution will the James Webb telescope will capture?

Sat, 3rd Sep 2011

Part of the show Why do some animals dump indiscriminately?

Question

Nish Nayar asked:

What is the resolution of the images that telescopes like the James Webb can capture?

Answer

Well the telescope is in fact bigger than the Hubble Space Telescope.  Its 6.5 metres, but its designed to image in the infrared. Its images in the infrared will be as precise and as fine as the Hubble images are at the optical. 

So it will take as spectacular images as the Hubble does, but at infrared wavelengths.  And so, for the first time, well see the universe in the infrared with the clarity and spectacular image quality of the Hubble Space Telescope. 

The size of the cameras is actually very large.  Weve used the latest infrared ray technology and one of our prime cameras, called the near infrared camera not very imaginative I'm afraid will actually take instantaneous pictures which are roughly 33 megapixels in size.  So we'll get very large images.

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33 megapixels is not massively large.  Admittedly I don't transfer my pictures from the second lagrange point - but you can buy cameras down the shops that are very similar size.  I have not read up on the latest news - but the feeling I get is that it's a dead duck now, which would be a tragedy imatfaal, Tue, 6th Sep 2011

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