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Nov. 16, 2021

Media Advisory: UArizona Astronomer to Participate in Webb Telescope Media Briefing

  • What: UArizona astronomer Marcia Rieke will participate in a NASA media briefing on James Webb Space Telescope science instruments. Rieke leads the telescope's NIRCam instrument.
  • When: Thursday, Nov. 18, 12 p.m. (MST)
  • Where: The briefing is virtual and will be livestreamed for the public on NASA TV, the NASA app and the agency's website.
  • RSVP: To participate by phone, media must RSVP no later than two hours before the start of the briefing to Laura Betz,, and Alise Fisher, Media and members of the public may also ask questions on Twitter using #NASAWebb.

TUCSON, Ariz. — UArizona Regents Professor of Astronomy Marcia Rieke will participate in a NASA virtual media briefing on the science instruments and capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Rieke is principal investigator for the telescope's Near-Infrared Camera instrument, or NIRCam.

The James Webb Space Telescope will launch on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana on Dec. 18 to become NASA's new premiere space telescope. NIRCam was designed by the University of Arizona and Lockheed Martin. NIRCam's focal plane – similar to a digital camera's imaging sensor – was developed by a team led by Rieke. Her husband, George Rieke, also a Regents Professor of Astronomy, is co-principal investigator and co-team leader on the telescope's Mid-Infrared Instrument, or MIRI, team. The Riekes played pivotal roles in the founding of the field of infrared astronomy.

Participants in Thursday's briefing will also discuss Webb's other three scientific instruments, all of which are designed to study a wide range of objects in space, from planets and stars to galaxies and dark energy. Additional participants include:

  • Eric Smith, Webb program scientist, NASA Headquarters
  • Lee Feinberg, Webb's optical telescope element manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Pierre Ferruit, principal investigator for Webb's Near-Infrared Spectrograph, European Space Agency
  • Gillian Wright, European principal investigator for Webb's Mid-Infrared Instrument, U.K. Astronomy Technology Centre
  • René Doyon, principal investigator for Webb's Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph and Fine Guidance Sensor, University of Montreal

The James Webb Space Telescope is an international partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies that will explore every phase of cosmic history from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe, and everything in between. Webb is expected to reveal new discoveries that help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it.

Additional Briefings 

At 9 a.m. (MST) on Nov. 18, NASA will host another briefing on the science goals of the mission. If interested in attending that briefing, follow the same RSVP steps outlined above.

NASA will host another media briefing Wednesday, Dec. 15, time TBD. Check NASA's news release page for updates.

Resources for media:

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Media contacts:
Mikayla Mace Kelley
University Communications

Daniel Stolte
University Communications

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 50 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2019 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $734 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 66 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

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Astronomy James Webb Space Telescope Space