NASA has chosen the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
Calif., to provide the Mid-Infrared Instrument on the Next
Generation Space Telescope, which will look back in time more
than 90 percent of the history of the universe.

The telescope is part of NASA’s Origins Program, which
explores the formation of galaxies, stars, planets and life.
It will replace the aging Hubble Space Telescope in 2009.

The instrument has enormous potential for discovery. It
will provide imaging and spectroscopy, which studies different
wavelengths of light. The Mid-Infrared Instrument will ‘see’
objects in extremely short wavelengths of light measuring 10
one-millionths of a meter — about the same wavelength as heat
emitted by the human body. The instrument also has the
potential to see in cooler temperature wavelengths. It could
extend to wavelengths much colder than the coldest spot on

The primary goals of the Next Generation Space Telescope
are to understand the formation and evolution of galaxies and
the creation of the first heavy elements, such as iron, copper
and gold. The Mid-Infrared Instrument will study old stars
and examine active galaxies with very bright cores. It will
also study starburst galaxies, which have high rates of star
formation. Other projects enabled by the new instrument will
peer into dust disks around stars, where planets may be

The winning proposal was developed and presented by Dr.
Charles Beichman, chief scientist of astronomy and physics at
JPL; JPL’s Dr. Avinash Karnik, project manager; and JPL’s Dr.
Gene Serabyn, instrument scientist, with support from various
technical experts at JPL. A joint science team for NASA and
the European Space Agency will develop functional requirements
for the instrument.

The Next Generation Space Telescope is managed for NASA
by Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. JPL is managed
for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in