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The James Webb Space Telescope: A Story of Art & Science

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Artists of all kinds were invited to apply for the chance to visit our Goddard Space Flight Center to be inspired by the giant, golden, fully-assembled James Webb Space Telescope mirror.

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Art/Photo Credit: Jedidiah Dore

Webb has a mirror that is nearly 22 feet high and (to optimize it for infrared observations) is covered in a microscopic layer of actual gold.

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Art/Photo Credit: Susan Lin

Because of Webb’s visually striking appearance, the project hosted a special viewing event on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016.

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Photo Credit: Maggie Masetti

There was an overwhelming response to the event invitation and ultimately twenty-four people were selected to attend. They represented a broad range of artistic media and styles, including: watercolor, 3D printed sculpture, silk screening, acrylics, sumi-e (East Asian brush technique), comics, letterpress, woodwork, metalwork, jewelry making, fiber art, ink, mural painting, kite-making, tattooing, scientific illustration, poetry, songwriting, and video making.

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Art/Photo Credit: Sue Reno

Project scientists and engineers spoke with visitors to give context to what they were seeing and explain why Webb is an engineering marvel, and how it will change our view of the universe. 

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Among other things, Webb will see the first stars and galaxies that formed in the early universe and help us to better understand how planetary systems form and evolve. It will help us answer questions about who we, as humans, are and where we came from.

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Art Credit: Jessica Lee
Photo Credit: Maggie Masetti

The artists spent several hours sitting right in front of the telescope, where they sketched, painted, took photos and even filmed a music video.

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Art Credit: Joanna Barnum
Photo Credit: Maggie Masetti

While some of the pieces of art are finished, most of the artists went home with their heads full of ideas and sketchbooks full of notes. Stay tuned for more info on where you can see their final works displayed!

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Art/Photo Credit: Susan Lin

Finished art from the event continues to be added HERE.

The James Webb Space Telescope is finishing environmental testing at our Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Next it will head to our Johnson Space Center in Houston for an end-to-end test at cryogenic temperatures. After that, it goes to Northrop Grumman to be mated with the giant tennis court-sized sunshield and the spacecraft bus.  The observatory will launch in October of 2018 from a European Space Agency (ESA) launch site in French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.  Webb is a collaboration of NASA, ESA, and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Follow Webb on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Source: You’ll find lots of information about the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Also we have facts about the space station, ISS, SpaceX launch, space program, and outerspace. NASA

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The James Webb Space Telescope: A Story of Art & Science

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