The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA’s successor to Hubble and Spitzer, will use NIRCam as its 0.6 to 5-micron imager. NIRCam was built and tested at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center before being sent to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and placed in the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM).
JWST will identify the universe’s first light-emitting galaxies and star clusters following the Big Bang. The NIRCam was created with the goal of locating these “first light” sources. The camera also has capabilities that will make it valuable for researching star formation in the Milky Way as well as discovering and describing planets orbiting other stars.
NIRCam uses dichroics to observe two wavelengths simultaneously and includes two instrument modules pointing to adjacent fields of view. Imaging of two 2.2′ by 2.2′ fields of vision, coronagraphic imaging, wide-field slitless spectroscopy utilizing grisms, time-series imaging, and grism time series are among the five observing modes.
Maximizing NIRCam’s wide range of capabilities, the NIRCam team has outlined a set of diverse science goals, which includes research on very high redshift galaxies, Y dwarfs, Kuiper Belt objects, and circumstellar disks and planets. Read more about what scientific research the NIRCam team hopes to do with NIRCam once JWST launches.
While the team awaits JWST’s launch, we are conducting a set of data challenges to test and improve our current strategies for handling data received from the telescope. Read more about them on our data challenges page.
NIRCam was created by a team of researchers and engineers at the University of Arizona, led by Marcia Rieke.
The Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM), one of three primary pieces that make up the James Webb Space Telescope Observatory flight system, houses Webb’s instruments. The Optical Telescope Element (OTE) and the Spacecraft Element are the others (Spacecraft Bus and Sunshield).
The ISIM is the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, what engineers call the main payload. It houses the four main instruments that will detect light from distant stars and galaxies, and planets orbiting other stars.
The ISIM Includes The Following Instruments:
- Near-Infrared Camera, or NIRCam – provided by the University of Arizona
- Near-Infrared Spectrograph, or NIRSpec – provided by ESA, with components provided by NASA/GSFC.
- Mid-Infrared Instrument, or MIRI – provided by the European Consortium with the European Space Agency (ESA), and by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
- Fine Guidance Sensor/ Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph , or FGS/NIRISS – provided by the Canadian Space Agency.