First JWST Instrument Handed Over to NASA

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The James Webb Space Telescope’s first completed instrument — the European-built Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) — was formally handed over to NASA during a May 9 ceremony in London.

“MIRI is the impressive result of more than ten years work, led by Britain in partnership with Europe,” David Willetts, Britain’s minister for universities and science, said in a statement released by the U.K. Space Agency. “With world-leading space research facilities at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, a host of excellent universities and strategic direction from the UK Space Agency, the UK is clearly well placed to contribute to major global missions.”

MIRI, a camera so sensitive it could see a candle on one of Jupiter’s moons, will be transported to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Once there it will undergo integration with the other instruments, two years of testing to ensure they all function together correctly and then integration and testing with the telescope optics.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is scheduled to launch in 2018 aboard Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket.