Nobelist John Mather to Headline Rescheduled JWST Webinar

Nobelist John Mather to Headline Rescheduled JWST Webinar

The webinar scheduled by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) to make the case for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be on September 21 instead of September 19 and the speaker’s list has grown in number and clout. Among those joining the event is Nobel Prize winner John Mather whose name is almost synonymous with JWST.

The webinar will take place at 2:00 pm EDT. To register for it, go to this website. The current speakers list includes the three originally scheduled (Mountain, Smith and Abraham) plus four others. The complete list is:

  • John Mather, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Nobel Prize (2006), Senior JWST Project Scientist and Chair of the JWST Science Working Group
  • Rick Howard, JWST Program Director at NASA Headquarters
  • Eric Smith, JWST Deputy Program Director at NASA Headquarters and former JWST Program Scientist
  • Matt Mountain, STScI Director
  • Julianne Dalcanton, University of Washington
  • Roberto Abraham, University of Toronto
  • Jonathan Lunine, Cornell University

JWST supporters were cheered by the Senate Appropriations Committee’s decision yesterday not just to approve the $374 million requested for JWST for FY2012, but to increase it to $530 million so the telescope can be launched in 2018. By contrast, the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) directed that the project be terminated and included no funds for it when marking up its version of the FY2012 appropriations bill that includes NASA (the Commerce-Justice-Science or CJS bill).

Neither the full House or Senate has voted on the CJS bill yet, and after that they must reach agreement on a final compromise version of the bill, so there are still many steps in the process to determine how much money the project will get. HAC wants to terminate the project because of significant cost overruns and schedule delays. Advertised by its advocates as the successor to the wildly popular Hubble Space Telescope, they are hoping to convince those who pay the bills that the resulting science is worth the cost. The current estimate is $8.7 billion.

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