back to article James Webb Telescope will be infatuated with Europa and Enceladus

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will be focused on Europa and Enceladus, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, in efforts to uncover the secrets of how life began in the Solar System. Europa and Enceladus have captivated scientists with rising plumes of water cracking beneath their icy surfaces. The moons have been described as “ …

  1. Tony W

    Microbial life?

    Microbial life is life. Although it's a big step from that to complex life.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microbial life?

      "Although it's a big step from that to complex life."

      Having been to several Wetherspoons on a friday night, I'm not sure that some of the 'complex life' I've seen in there is much of a step up from microbes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microbial life?

      > "Microbial life is life. Although it's a big step from that to complex life."

      True, but the really complex step is from nothing to a functioning, replicating cell. The number of things going on in the simplest living cell is mind blowing. Every improvement after that is largely incremental (altho pretty cool I'll admit).

    3. Sceptic Tank

      Re: Microbial life?

      Microbial live is life.

      1. AbelSoul

        Re: Microbial life?

        ... live is life.

        NA NA, NANA NA!

    4. Juhani Vehvilainen

      Re: Microbial life?

      I guess you read it slightly wrong. The way I see it microbial life was not posed as an as alternative to life but as as an alternative to "natural geologic processes." (I also oppose the word "natural" here as there's nothing unnatural about life either, microbial or otherwise.)

      So the options are: microbial life or geologic processes.

  2. frank ly Silver badge


    "...other ingredients needed for life."

    That's "... life Jim but only as we know it."

  3. DougS Silver badge

    Active for five to ten years

    Why such a short lifetime, compared to Hubble? Is it because it will be difficult or impossible to service because of its orbital location at L2?

    1. Andy Non

      Re: Active for five to ten years

      difficult or impossible to service

      That would be a memorable on-call feature for El Reg.

      "Got a little job for you, it may take you a while to get there and back to do the fix, so you'll need to take a packed lunch or two... and a space suit."

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Active for five to ten years

        . . . and don't even think about filing for overtime pay.

        1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

          Re: Active for five to ten years

          There probably more than a few that would be figuring out how to pay NASA so they could make the trip. I'd go.

        2. I just wish to be anonymous.

          Re: Active for five to ten years

          I'd want over-overtime for the time dilation.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Active for five to ten years

      IR telescopes needs cooling. When the cooling systems no longer operates, they become big pieces of space junks. And being outside any range for maintenance, no way to replace the cooling system. Actually, if anything goes wrong, it will last even less...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Active for five to ten years

        The mid IR instruments are cooled by a mechanical fridge, the near IR camera is passively cooled - that's the main reason for putting it so far out from Earth.

        The lifetime is set by fuel for the maneuvering thrusters

    3. hattivat

      Re: Active for five to ten years

      In addition to what has already been said, it si worth noting that Hubble's lifespan has been artificially extended beyond what would make sense from a purely economic point of view - a major factor in the cost-benefit analysis preceding the servicing missions was its value as a "brand" that is instantly recognizable to most people and thus very valuable for public outreach (which has always been a challenge for space programs).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Main purpose

    Although I'm sure that the JWST will be used to make observations of many objects in our solar system I rather suspect that it will spend the majority of its time observing very distant objects where, due to their red-shift, a lot of the info in which we're interested will have been shifted down to the IR.

  5. Nolveys Silver badge

    Europa and Enceladus

    If there are two bodies that are begging for a deep and thorough probing it's them. I hope I live to see the day.

  6. Sceptic Tank

    Welcome Overlords

    I for one welcome our plumes of spacefaring microbial overlords.

    Why is JWSpaaaaceT being launched from French Guiana? I suppose it has to do with it being close to the equator and better alignment to L2. Well, whatever the case may be, I hope the launch goes well. It would suck mightily if that thing were to land up in the ocean or somewhere in a LEO after all the years of hype and $-billions having gone into its development.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Welcome Overlords

      NASA and ESA are sharing the project - ESA made an Ariane available.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Welcome Overlords

        Ironically most of the design elements of the telescope, like the folding mirror, were set by a NASA requirement to launch it on an American rocket. The designs that would require the much larger Ariane were constantly rejected.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Didn't we vote to leave Europa?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The UK is a minor partner of ESA the European space Agency who are part building the telescope instruments, we will probably stay in that because the R&D center is at Harwell and even Canada is a member of ESA. The UK isn't part of Arianespace, the (just about) profit making launcher.

    2. hplasm Silver badge

      Didn't we vote to leave Europa?


      /Space Juncker

  8. MT Field

    And didn't some of the Merkun politicians try to block funding because of its potentially blasphemous resolving power?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019