Astrophysicists and space buffs worldwide erupted into cheers after the perfect launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) on Christmas Day 2021. Days later, they held their collective breaths as sections of the telescope’s mirrors and sunscreen, folded inside like highly intricate origami, were deployed, concluding in full deployment on Jan. 8, 2022.
No one was more relieved and awed than Berkeley alum and Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. John Mather, who is also the JWST senior project scientist. In a taped National Press Club event, Mather described the long and agonizing testing process during the JWST’s development. “We made a list of about 700 things that could go wrong,” he said. The unfolding alone had 344 potential “single point failures.”
Those tests paid off. One of the most remarkable scientific achievements in history is now sending images and information back to Earth that will forever change perception of the universe. And UC Berkeley (UCB) scientists are in the forefront of multiple projects involving the JWST.