March 2, 2012 Amber Straughn to Discuss the James Webb Space Telescope, March 21

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Science, Technology and Business Division (202) 707-5664 | NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (301) 614-6627

Groundbreaking scientific results have come from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope for more than 20 years, and they have revolutionized our understanding of the universe. Now new questions have arisen that demand a new space-based telescope with improved technologies and expanded capabilities, according to NASA scientist Amber Straughn.

Straughn will discuss “NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope” at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 21, in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are needed.

The illustrated lecture, the second in a series of programs in 2012, is presented through a collaboration between the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The lecture series is in its sixth year.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is expected to launch in 2018, is an international collaboration of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. The instrument will work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum with some capability in the visible range. NASA calls it the premier observatory of the next decade.

Thousands of astronomers worldwide will study every phase in the history of our universe, ranging from the evolution of our own solar system and the first luminous glows after the Big Bang to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth.

The telescope will have a mirror 6.5 meters in diameter and a sunshield the size of a tennis court. JWST will reside in an orbit about 1.5 million kilometers (1 million miles) from the Earth.

Straughn is a research astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and serves as the deputy project scientist for JWST Education and Public Outreach. Her research focuses on interacting and star-forming galaxies in the context of galaxy assembly. She has most recently been working on infrared spectroscopic data from the new Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope. Her broad research interests include galaxy formation and evolution, galaxy mergers and interactions, star formation and black hole growth, and dark energy and its effect on the galaxy merger rate.

Straughn obtained her bachelor’s in physics at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 2002 and completed her master’s and doctorate in physics at Arizona State University in 2008. She has been at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center since 2008.

The Library of Congress maintains one of the largest and most diverse collections of scientific and technical information in the world. The Science, Technology and Business Division provides reference and bibliographic services and develops the general collections of the Library in all areas of science, technology, business and economics. For more information, visit

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds nearly 151.8 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at


PR 12-045
ISSN 0731-3527