The James Webb Space Telescope and the MIRI mid-Infrared Instrument

11 October 2016

BAE Systems Park Centre


The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the next large space observatory and is being built jointly by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).  Due to launch in 2018 it will allow astronomers to look back in time to the early universe and study the light of the first stars and galaxies that formed after the Big Bang.  It will also revolutionise the study of exoplanets, with an ability to capture images and spectra of these objects in unprecedented detail.  Paul Eccleston will describe some of the major engineering challenges that have been overcome in order to build this revolutionary machine.  Examples of the major technologies that have been developed to build this 6.5 m diameter telescope in space will be shown and the difficulties faced will be described.  Mr Eccleston will then look in depth at the design, build and testing of the UK-led instrument on the telescope: the Mid InfraRed Instrument (MIRI). 

Speaker Details

Paul Eccleston

Paul Eccleston, Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory

Paul Eccleston is currently Chief Engineer at STFC - RAL Space, having until recently been Systems Engineering Group Leader. He is also project manager for the ARIEL payload consortium, one of the three candidate missions in the Phase A study for the next ESA Cosmic Vision medium class mission. He was the project manager and technical lead for the payload consortium for the Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory (EChO) Mission Phase A study. He was also engineering manager for the SPICE Ultra-Violet Spectrometer for Solar Orbiter from 2012 until 2015. From 2003 to 2012 Paul worked in a variety of roles on the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) for the James Webb Space Telescope. These included acting as thermal and cryogenics lead and also AIV manager, responsible for coordinating the work of the consortium of 40+ institutes in 11 countries, to build, test and calibrate the Instrument. Prior to joining RAL Space, Paul worked in the aerospace industry for Smiths Aerospace (now GE) in Cheltenham, working as a systems engineer on civil and military aircraft electronics systems.


BAE Systems Park Centre