Monday, November 21, 2011

JWST is Saved!!

Science Warriors:

IT IS DONE! Congrats on a job well done! As you may have heard, the US House of Representatives have come to an agreement concerning the James Webb Space Telescope. And what did they agree on? A fully funded telescope! As it stands right now, JWST WILL FLY!! We did it!! (See this link & then this link here for details on how the vote went down and how much money JWST will be getting)

While it is true that next year or the year after, the JWST may yet again enter choppy waters, for now we celebrate a huge victory for science and space exploration. The past four months have been as exhilarating as they have been arduous. During that time, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Northrop Grumman, the AAS (American Astronomical Society), The Planetary Society, and many others have rallied behind the JWST. They deserve much of the credit for this victory.

Most important in this effort was you. Without your tweets, emails, phone calls, blog mentions, facebook & Google+ posts, reddit links, conversations with friends & family, and your enthusiasm to fight for this telescope, none of this would be possible. Thousands of people have signed petitions. Many engaged in conversations with their elected officials for the first time in their lives. Others still have created all kinds of media to help spread the word. ALL HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE. Now, the Hubble of the next generation will fly!

Special thanks go to the volunteers of saveJWST: Chris, Zack, Jon, Nick, Kyle, Blair, Victor, Nicki, Pietro, Christine, and our fearless organizer Raphael. Additional thanks go out to Kevin, to Alberto, to Laura, to David, the Spacetweep Society, Tashaverse, katrobinson, ageekmom and the army of NASATweetup folks over on Twitter, to Brad Goodspeed and Callum Sutherland, JPMajor,, and to many, many more who can't be named here but have contributed heroically. You have done amazing work!

For now, all is good, but like Batman watching over Gotham, we will be keeping an eye on JWST in the future. Do check back with us periodically for updates.

Long live the James Webb. 


Monday, November 7, 2011

The 3x10 Challenge

Attention Gallant saveWebbers:

History: So far, subcommittees have agreed to separate amounts of funding for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). In July 2011, the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee voted strip all funding from the JWST, and in September 2011, the Senate CJS Subcommittee voted to fully fund the JWST to the tune of $530 million. Since that time, the full US Senate has had their say, affirming the Senate CJS subcommittee's decision.

Update: So the telescope is funded now, right? Not quite. The endgame is in sight, but the fight for flight is not over. Space News has recently reported that the House and Senate CJS subcommittees plan to come to an agreement on funding for the JWST by November 18! Mark the date, because that gives us only ten days to save the JWST.

Action Alert: We are at a critical juncture here, Science Warriors. If the result of the negotiations is a reduction in JWST funding, the cost of the telescope will increase and the schedule will be delayed, putting it at risk of cancellation in the future. When you write your congressional representatives we need you to advocate for full funding: $530 million. The time to act is now. With this said, we're thrilled to announce the 3x10 Challenge!

The details:
  1. We encourage saveJWST supporters to get three (3) people to contact a congressional representative from a key district within the next ten (10) days OR Write to three (3) different congressional representatives within that period.
  2. Once you've got your three (3), swing by the saveJWST Facebook Page on November 17 (the day before the big House-Senate decision) and tell us about it using a Facebook poll that we'll post. Polling will close at 8 p.m. EST, November 17, 2011.
  3. We will randomly select a winner from the pool of entries and announce that winner the next morning. The prize? A 1-Year Subscription to Sky & Telescope Magazine, Astronomy Magazine, or Astronomy Now Magazine. (#SweetSpaceSwag)
If you are reading this, you clearly have an interest in science. You want humanity to explore and discover, to understand its place in the cosmos. You feel that it is our destiny, and that we NEED to do science in order to survive in a dangerous Universe. You also support science because it is THE basis of any industrialized nation. It is the key infrastructure on which modern society depends. So, don't let the James Webb Space Telescope become another Superconducting Super Collider. You can help the USA refocus its science priorities in a positive, productive direction.

  • You can do something. Contact your congressional representatives in the US House of Representatives. [Here is a complete list of those representatives - don't worry if you are not in their district - write anyway]. If you do not tell them how you feel, how are they going to know?
  • Gather your three (3). Get three (3) people to to contact the US House of Representatives or contact three (3) congressional representatives within the next ten (10) days (and enter to win a 1-Year subscription to Sky and Telescope Magazine, Astronomy Magazine, or Astronomy Now Magazine).
  • Spread the Word. Post this link on Facebook, Google+, Diaspora, Linkedin, Digg, Reddit, and anywhere you have a voice. Shoot a message to anyone who you think might listen.
  • Take the fight to Twitter. Use the hashtags #saveJWST #write4flight and #3x10. If you tweet once day for these last few days, the world WILL hear you (psst! - you can tweet your representatives, too)
Now is the time to take up our proverbial arms and fight for American Science. Now is the time to tell our representatives that they CANNOT cancel our future in favor of shortsighted and temporary concerns. Now is the time to act. Just think of how amazing it is going to feel when those first amazing caches of data start coming back to Earth, knowing that you did something, that you convinced others to help, that you directly contributed to a positive human future. Science, Warriors: Let's save this telescope!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

US Senate Passes Bill with Full JWST Funding!

Greetings SaveWebbers!

Today we celebrate another victory for the James Webb Space Telescope. The US Senate announced that it passed the FY 2012 bill, which outlines much of the federal budget over the coming year. Inside that bill is a fully funded JWST! Previously, only the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Justice agreed to to fully fund the JWST. Now, the ENTIRE Senate has agreed to this funding!

However, there is yet another step. The US House of Representatives must pass their version of the FY 2012 bill. If you remember, the US House Committee on Commerce, Science, and Justice voted to zero-out funding for the JWST. Now the ENTIRE US House must vote on this version of the bill.

More info:

Remember, we are not finished yet. The US House must approve their version of the bill. After that, the US House and the US Senate must reconcile their differences.

Keep writing those letters, Science Warriors! We need them now more than ever.

Check out our Facebook page. And learn how you can help save this scope: Write for Flight!

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Write for Flight!" | Letter Writing Campaign

Calling All Science Warriors & SaveWebbers!

All hands on deck, folks!
It is time for our final coup de grĂ¢ce. Congress has decided to speed up the process of passing the FY 2012 bill, which includes funding for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). This does not give us a lot of time to act, but act WE MUST.

Here's the Scoop:
Technicians hard at work on the James Webb Space Telescope
As it stands right now, the US Senate Subcommittee voted to fully fund JWST in this bill. However, this stands in stark contrast to the funding figure proposed by the US House Subcommittee in July 2011: $0.00. The process that is happening right now is a deliberation between the House and Senate Subcommittees in which they will negotiate a final figure. In short, it is still possible for the JWST to be underfunded or zeroed out.

saveJWST volunteers have worked tirelessly to get the word out and your efforts have been rewarded. We created an online petition to raise awareness. You stepped up, signing an amazing 5,039 signatures in favor of the JWST. The petition is, as you read this, on the way to the US House Subcommittee. We created a Facebook page. You gave us millions of page views. You have emailed your friends, messaged your coworkers, and tweeted the effort to the entire world. All of this hard work and relentless energy has led to this moment. It has given all of us the ability to fight this battle. Now we must act.

Infrared Composite of the Center of Our Galaxy.
We Need Your Help!
We need you to help all of us save this telescope.
The 13 members of the House Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, and Science control the purse strings for the James Webb Space Telescope. If you want the JWST to fly, you will need to contact them personally. Our sources on Capitol Hill say a handwritten letter will go the furthest as far as getting your Congressperson’s attention. Phone calls fall in second and emails come in third. So please take a few minutes to write and send this massively important letter. Our target representatives need to know you feel that JWST should fly. If you don't tell them, they won’t know how you feel. Now, we’re not asking you to write him an entire book; any length—a few sentences or paragraphs—would be wonderful. And if you don’t have the time to write a letter and mail it, give your Congressperson's office a call or send him or her an email. If you are feeling especially geared for battle, DO ALL THREE!

Everyone will like to know if you've written, called or emailed. So, when you have contacted your Congressperson, swing by the Facebook page and leave comment. Say "I'm a 1" if you used one method of contact, "I'm a 2" if you contacted them using two methods (next level: unlocked), or "I'm a 3" if you are an elite science warrior.

Who to Contact:
This part is easy. There are 13 members of the US House Subcommittee. We want to open a line of communication with all 13 members, plus House leadership, John Boehner and Eric Cantor. See below a list of Congressional Representatives who we need you to contact.

Write for Flight | Contact Congress Handouts

It will be most effective if you contact John Boehner or Eric Cantor, as most of us don't live in the 13 districts that the US House Subcommittee serves. However, if you do live in these 13 districts, then GREAT. You can certainly contact them. If you have friends or family in these districts, then get them to contact these 13 representatives instead. Or, if you are feeling especially ambitious, write them all. You may not live in their district, but they will be making decisions about the JWST that effects all of humanity.

No matter who you contact, its important that you make your voice heard. And its important that you spread the word. Seek out conversation on the Facebook page and on Twitter, using the following hastags: #savejwst #savethistelescope #writeforflight #jwst #jameswebb #jameswebbspacetelescope

Here is a tweet we encourage you to use and adapt:
RT! Final Push to #saveJWST from Congressional Shortsightedness. This is it folks. Help us #writeforflight

It's time to save the Hubble of the Next Generation. It's time to save the James Webb Space Telescope. Write for Flight, Science Warriors!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Honeycomb Has Landed! JWST @ the Maryland Science Center (Oct. 14-26)

Science Warriors: The Honeycomb has landed! Swing by the Maryland Science Center before October 26th, take a picture with the tennis-court-sized InfraRed telescope model, and enjoy a super-string of stellar events!

  • Friday, Oct. 14, 2:00 p.m. | Remarks by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (Location: Outside by model)
  • Friday, Oct. 14, 5:00 to 5:45 p.m. | Meet an Astronaut: Leland Melvin & John Grunsfeld (Location: Outside by model)
  • Friday, Oct. 14, 6:00 p.m. | Panel Discussion "The People behind JWST" (Location: Presentation Room)
  • Friday, Oct. 14, 7:00 p.m. | Stargazing Event (Location: MSC Courtyard)
  • Friday, Oct. 14, 10:00 to 11:00 p.m. | STEM Educational Tent & "Ask a Scientist" Booth (Location: Tent and outside by model)
  • Saturday, Oct. 15, 12:00 to 7:30 p.m. | STEM Educational Tent & "Ask a Scientist" Booth (Location: Tent and outside by model)
  • Saturday, Oct. 15, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. | NGC Presentation "Science & Engineering of the JWST" (Location: Presentation Room)
  • Sunday, Oct. 16, 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. | STScI Presentation "Telescopes as Time Machines" (Location: Outside by by model)
  • Sunday-Tuesday, Oct. 16-18, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. | STEM Educational Tent & "Ask a Scientist" Booth (Location: Tent and outside by model)
  • Wednesday, Oct. 26, 9:45 a.m. | Dedication of JWST Exhibit (Location: Maryland Science Center)
Learn More @

Monday, October 10, 2011

SaveJWST Video Contest: You Choose the Winner!

Greetings SaveWebbers:

We've received 2 wonderful video submissions, "Genesis" and "Vision," for the whyJWST? Video Competition, and now it's time to vote for the winner! Please take a few minutes and watch the videos (either below or in the survey) and select your favorite one: Survey Link. The video that receives the most votes wins, and its creator will receive 1 hour of access on the powerful, 2-meter Faulkes North or South telescope to observe any celestial object in the universe of their choosing (see details here). Voting ends on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. (EDT), and the winner will be announced on Monday, October 17, 20111 at 11:00 a.m. (EDT). Science Warriors: Cast your votes!

Petition & Video Competition Close: What's Next?

Attention SaveWebbers and Science Warriors:

There are two items of note.
However, all is not over. Our most important effort has yet to come. Read below for details:

The Petition was open from July 10, 2011 through to October 9, 2011 a total of nearly 3 months. We received an amazing 5,039 signatures! We thank you heartily for the effort, enthusiasm, and seriousness with which you, our most important supporter, helped spread the word and engage your publicly elected officials about the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Without you, this entire endeavor would have been impossible. This is especially true for the effort to save JWST because 99.9% of this has been conducted through social media and the Internet. If your signature is on this petition; if you tweeted about the effort to save JWST or posted on Facebook or talked to your friends and family, or contacted your democratically elected representatives, then you have sent a clear message to your contemporaries about the importance of JWST and the importance of science and technology in our society. You have also sent a message to future generations, saying "even now, during a period of dismal economic woes and conflicting priorities, there are those among us with vision and a long-term awareness of what is important; what will advance our species to one day travel to the stars."

So what's our next move with the petition? We will be packaging the signatures, printing them out, and sending them to key members of the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce Justice and Science starting today. We will keep you updated on this progress.

The Video Competition is also now closed. We have accepted the final submissions and they are spectacular! Now, we will need your help on this one...we will be setting up a public vote to determine the winning submission. We still have a prize to give away (1 hour of access to the 2-meter Faulkes Telescope in Hawai'i or Australia) and it will be up to you, our saveJWST supporters, to determine the winner. Stay tuned to this blog and to our Facebook page for the announcement of the public vote; It will be happening soon (read: over the next 5 hours).

What's next? So, now that this Video Competition and the Petition are closed, are we done here? Oh no we are not! Our most important effort is coming up. The House and the Senate are now deliberating the final numbers for the FY2012 bill, which includes funding for the JWST. Now is the most important time to act. Have no fear. We have a plan. And we will be announcing this plan on Wednesday October 12, 2011. So, stay tuned and get ready. This Telescope must fly!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Zoom In: The Next Step

Greetings SaveWebbers: Today we present a guest post from a fellow SaveWebber and all-around Science Advocate, Laura Dattaro. Laura Dattaro is the associate editor of Baltimore City Paper (archive) and a contributing writer for EarthSky. She can be contacted at; follow her on Twitter at @ldattaro. Read her post below:

Picture a globe. A map of the world. If you have one nearby, take a look. At the macro level, it's a picture of land and sea, outlines of continents as they meet the shores of the oceans. If you have a topographic globe, you can run your fingers over it and feel individual mountain ranges, the tactile signature of our home planet.

Zoom in, and you can see outlines of countries, cities, towns. You can find rivers and lakes, deserts and jungles, islands peppering the seas. All of it's labeled and accurately scaled: everything in its right place.

Now picture of a map of the universe. Imagine a massive black plane, all the macro pieces—galaxy clusters, nebulae, black holes—placed just so, the emptiness of space washing upon their ample shores. Zoom in, and you could see individual stars, planets, comets. Zoom in far enough, and you'd find our tiny globe.

A map of our universe today would be highly incomplete. We know a lot—a whole lot—but there is still a nearly endless expanse of black yet to be filled in. Our own globe used to be similarly lacking. In fact, early citizens of Earth named it so because they hadn't yet seen the seas. (Eventually, some thought to rename it Water, but alas, the name was stuck.) But thanks to millenia worth of gallant explorers, men who gave their lives to forge the oceans and map the world, we now know what our home looks like, and we're learning more every day.

Consider Powers of 10, a short video made in 1968 that's been preserved by the United States National Film Registry in the Library of Congress. The whole thing is worth a view, but for our purposes, stick with the first half, until about 4:40 in. The filmmakers have zoomed out from two picnickers in Chicago by powers of 10, and have reached 100 million light-years away, “the limit of our vision.”

Now, consider this Scale of the Universe, created in 2010. It too conceptualizes the scale of our world in a way that veers toward comprehensible. But what in 1968 was so much empty space, dotted only by galaxies and galaxy clusters, is today a colorful explosion of nebulae, black holes, exoplanets, quasars, and supersonic star jets. Nowhere in Powers of 10 do we see the Pillars of Creation, or the Tarantula Nebula, or even our own Kuiper Belt, referenced only as "a fringe of myriad comets too faint to see." (Though Gerard Kuiper first hypothesized a plethora of bodies at the edge of the solar system in 1950, it wasn't until 1992 that astronomers sighted the first Kuiper Belt Object.) And nowhere does the video hint at the vastness noted in the Scale of the Universe: That our universe is 14 billion years old, and so we have billions of cubic light-years to explore.

The famous Hubble Deep Field
What made all the difference? A lot of technology, and a lot of work, but, largely, it was Hubble. In 1995 the Hubble Deep Field was released, an image showing what was thought at the time to be 1,500 galaxies huddled together in the space of sky that would fit in the opening of a drinking straw. When Hubble's technology was updated—by astronauts using space shuttles—it took new images, and new data, and resulted in a 2004 composite image that showed 10,000 galaxies in the same amount of tiny space. Hubble let us pin down the universe's age for the first time. It discovered that the universe's rate of expansion was itself expanding. It made the first observations of atmospheric compositions of exoplanets. It filled in a lot of space on our empty universe globe.

But there is much left to do, and Hubble is dying. We cannot go back and fix it, and even if we could, it's time to move on. And what's next is the James Webb. Astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore began planning JWST in 1995, just five years after Hubble's launch, because they knew building it would be a challenge. And it has been one. JWST is criticized for poor management, poor planning, and poor budgeting. But what must be remembered is that nothing like JWST has ever been built before. As a prominent scientist (who requested not to be named) at STScI recently told me, this is not like building a car. We have made many millions of cars. We know how much they cost, how they fit together, how much time they take to build. But no one knew, when work began on JWST, just what problems to anticipate. And the initial schedule and budget were overly optimistic.

NASA generally builds a 25% reserve into its budget—money to be used in the event that something goes wrong. For each year of JWST work up until now, reserves were well below 10%, and possibly as low as 3%. With a project as massive and integrated as JWST, if one thing goes wrong, it snowballs. Small delays roll into bigger ones; time and money are lost exponentially. And you end up where we are today: seven years overdue.

This is a problem, and no one is denying that. But the project's leadership has been entirely reworked. JWST is now its own division within NASA, rather than part of the astrophysics division. Everyone at the senior management level has been replaced. In fact, changes took place almost immediately following the release of an Oct. 29, 2010, Independent Comprehensive Review Panel (ICRP) report, requested by Maryland's state Sen. Barbara Mikulski, which first exposed the myriad problems plaguing the project. NASA issued a response detailing its agreement with all of the ICRP's recommendations and its proposed steps to comply with them; by Dec. 1, 2010, the first ICRP-recommended executive meeting between Goddard, NASA, and the prime contractors took place in California.

L2 - the "Gravity Well" where JWST will be parked
Here's the biggest part: All of the hardest work is done. While it's difficult to pin down specific numbers, I was recently given estimated figures. The money that's left to be spent can be split into three parts. About one-third is dedicated to construction of the remaining pieces: the complex sunshield (much of the design work and modeling of which is done), and the spacecraft bus, a relatively simple piece. Another third is meant for integration—putting all the pieces together—and testing. And the other third? Reserves. It might not even be spent. (The current $8.7 billion price tag, keep in mind, includes seven years of operations, data archiving, and other life-cycle costs.)

But why are we building JWST? Let's consider the science. James Webb is designed to see in the infrared in order to capture light from the most distant objects in the universe. It can see through the dust and gas smearing the skies and watch stars and planets as they form. And it can test the atmospheres of distant bodies to search for signs of planets like our own, planets that future, more ambitious technologies could study, or maybe, one day, visit. We are poised to discover our own creation. We are set to unearth interstellar siblings. We are prepared to fulfill dreams that have existed since man first peered at the sky. And we stand to lose everything.

Comparison of formation in Visible and Infrared
In the wake of the ICRP report, officials within NASA were forced by law to prepare an “analysis of alternatives,” a report that examined if the same science goals could be achieved with a cheaper piece of technology than JWST as currently planned. (The report has not, to my knowledge, been released to the public.) The answer? Nope. If we want to do what JWST is designed to do—if we want to look back to the big bang, search realistically for life, watch creation as it happens—the most cost effective way to do it is to build and use the James Webb.

And that's really the point. There is no if. There is no should. Exploring is simply what humans do. It's what we've always done, and it's what we will continue to do. If we've proven anything about ourselves, it's that we're not content with not knowing. Men and women through the ages have dedicated their lives to exploring our land, our seas, and our skies, and those are the men and women we still hold in admiration decades, centuries, and millenia after they've died. James Webb is simply the next step—and as long as we're still alive, it won't be the last.

For more information on JWST's status, see JWST Program Director Rick Howard's and Astrophysics Director Jon Morse's July presentations to NASA's Astrophysics Subcommittee. If you missed STScI's September Webinar, you can listen to the audio and view the presentations here or download PDFs of the slides here.

For more about the quest to map our home planet, read the chapter on Earth in Dava Sobel's The Planets. Better yet, read the whole book!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

End of the Petition!

Attention Science Warriors:

The petition is coming to an end!

Yes. It is true. According to an anonymous, credible source on Capitol Hill, the Senate and House CJS subcommittees will be negotiating during the next 2-3 weeks on the final amount of funding for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) before including the final figure in a massive omnibus bill (includes all 12 appropriations bills) that will go before the House and Senate Floors. The critical time to influence decision-making on Capitol Hill is now. Our plan is to end the petition, print it, bind it, and deliver it to key members of Congress by mid-October. Please help us in our final push to get as many signatures as possible before the petition ends. The last day for the petition is OCTOBER 9 2011. Science Warriors, the time to do battle is nigh! Let's close this sweet chapter and let Congress know who works for who around here.

However, this is not the end. It is no where near the end. Our most effective coup-de-grace is now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

JWST News Update: Senate Appropriations Committee Vote

Greetings Science Warriors:

Good News for the JWST!
Earlier today (Wednesday September 14, 2011) the US Senate Appropriations Committee, including the Subcommittee concerning Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies met to hash out the details of the FY2012 bill. A few of those details include a small victory for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) today! The Senate Subcommittee has voted to include $530 million for the JWST in 2012. This represents a larger amount than the Obama Administration proposed, which totaled $374 million. This is a significant positive outcome for the JWST. However, we are not out of the woods just yet. Read below more details.

The Effects of a Two-Chambered Legislature
So, didn't we just do this kind of vote two months ago and lose? If you are confused, you're not alone; we were too! Here is some background on how the process works: The US Congress is divided into two halves: the House of Representatives and the Senate. When building a bill, in order to make it law, each half of Congress negotiates the details of a bill in special committees dedicated to specific tasks and subjects. In July, the US House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies voted NOT to include funding for the JWST when building thier version of the FY 2012 bill. That's when most of us got motivated. Today, the US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies sat down to discuss the details of their version of the FY 2012 bill. The Senate Subcommittee decided to "mark-up" (which means amend the bill, a normal process for any bill) so that NASA receives $17.9 Billion, which is only $509 Million less than NASA budget last year. This proposed NASA budget "provides funds to enable a 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope" (from the Senate Subcommitte Summary for thier version of FY 2012), with a proposed 2012 JWST budget of $530 million.

This differs from what the US House proposed NASA should receive: Overall, only $16.8 billion and JWST, specifically, $0. Check out this Space Politics article for an excellent summary of the changes the US House Subcommittee proposed for NASA in FY 2012. With regard to funding for NASA and funding for the JWST, the House and the Senate disagree with each other. Now, they will have to compromise.

We expect the bill to go to the full Senate for a floor vote soon. When it passes, and it may be amended before it does, it will be presented for a full House vote. There, both the House and Senate will have to compromise on the details of the FY 2012 budget. Finally, it moves to the President's desk to be signed into law. When might it reach the full House floor for a vote? Perhaps sometime in October is our best guess. The timeline for a bill can change at a moments notice. And rest assured we will be keeping up with that timeline.

More Battles Yet to Come
SaveJWST wants to offer a big hearty "Thank You" to all of you who signed the petition, who interacted with the facebook page, and especially those of you who made your voices heard with the US Congress. We can't be sure of how much our presence and grassroots activity impacted the Senators in the US Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies today. Regardless, we are thrilled that members of the Senate have thrown their support behind NASA and JWST.

Today is a victory, Science Warriors. We should cheer for this day. However, we still have battles yet to fight. JWST is not entirely safe yet, so please continue to gather supporters and spread the message. We need more signatures for a louder collective voice. We need more emails and phone calls pouring into Congress. We will keep you updated on the progress of this magnificent telescope: The Hubble of the Next Generation. The fight for flight continues!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The whyJWST Video Competition

Dear Science Warriors:

JWST Primary Mirrors and Technicians
In the next few years, the Hubble Space Telescope—a triumph of science and technology that has yielded a multitude of discoveries and inspired millions worldwide—will be shut down. Fortunately, NASA is in the process of building its successor: the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Scheduled to launch in 2018, the JWST will give us an unprecedented view of the heavens. Scientists will use the JWST to study the formation of galaxies, stars, and planetary systems. Perhaps most intriguing, the telescope will allow us to view the light of stars formed a mere 400,000 years after the Big Bang and will expand our knowledge of how the universe we know today came to be.

Unfortunately, on July 13, 2011, the House Appropriations Committee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies voted to shut down the JWST program. This was devastating news for the scientific community and space enthusiasts in the United States and abroad. Within days of the announcement, we launched an online grassroots campaign (saveJWST) to the Save the James Webb Space Telescope, creating a Facebook fan page, online petition, and this blog. Our mission is to spread the word about the importance of the JWST and encourage people to contact their congressional representatives to save the program.

In an effort to raise public awareness for the troubled JWST, we are thrilled to announce The whyJWST Video Competition:

That's right, a Video Competition! If you feel passionately about the JWST and would like to see it fly; if you believe American science and our collective human destiny need this important successor to the Hubble to study exoplanets in search of life, to unlock the secrets of the birth of the universe and our future in it, then put in your two cents for thousands to see! Create a video celebrating and/or championing the JWST and submit it to the whyJWST Video Competition. Do this and you could win big. Your video can also help bring much needed attention to the funding troubles of the James Webb Space Telescope. The video can help to educate the public about JWST's fate. It can explore the science behind JWST. You can also direct the video as a plea toward Congress or the voting public. Your imagination is the only limit. Create a video and we will post the best submissions on the saveJWST youtube channel.

The Prize:
Our prize is astronomical. Literally:

One of the Faulkes Telescope
The winner of the whyJWST Video Competition will be granted 1 hour of access to the 2-meter Faulkes Telescope In Hawai'i or Australia to image any celestial object of their choosing (excluding planets in our Solar System) between 0900 and 1700 UT, Monday-Friday. The two telescopes, which cost $8 million each, have some of the most sensitive CCD (charged-coupled device) cameras in the world, and can be operated remotely from a personal computer.

Technical Prize Details: The winner will be able to log in with a specially created account, slew to the target, and image the heavens for 1 hour. If the hour is lost to weather or any technical issues, the account will have another 60 minutes granted to it. For more information about the Faulkes Telescopes, check out their website: Note that planets may not be observed, as they cause significant ghost image on the CCD.

Faulkes Telescope Hawaii. Click to Embiggen
How to Enter:
  • The whyJWST Video Competition ends Sunday October 9, 2011 at 11:59 pm. Videos will not be accepted after this deadline. The winner will be selected and announced by Friday October 21, 2011
  • All video submissions should be loaded directly onto your account. When you upload the video, you will have an opportunity to tag the video. Simply tag the video "whyJWST". Please see the video below for detailed instructions on how to upload a video onto
  • After the video is uploaded and appropriately tagged, you will need to send an email to Please include the following: Subject Line should read "whyJWST Video Competition." In the body of the email please include your 1) name, 2) email address, 3) a link to your whyJWST youtube video, 4) and a 10-character handle or username. The handle or username will be used to identify you as the video author if the video submission is posted publicly.
  • Videos may be no longer than 3 minutes in length.
  • Videos must be original. You must obtain a release for any persons or properties appearing in the video submission. This includes music or images protected by copyright, among other properties. See Original Work of Authorship section of the official rules, below.
  • The whyJWST Video Competition is open to any human on Earth or in Low Earth Orbit. However, only adults can submit a video. Whether or not a person is legally considered an adult will be defined by the standards and laws of the nation and jurisdiction in which that person resides. If you are underage and still wish to participate, then please have a parent or guardian submit your video on your behalf.
  • For any questions on how this process works, please send an email to For questions, please include the subject line "whyJWST Question".

Faulkes Telescope. Click to Embiggen
Legal Rules and Standards:
Eligibility:: Anyone is eligible to enter and participate. Entrants may be citizens of any nation on Earth. Submissions will be considered irrespective of national origin, religious background, political affiliation, gender, sex, ethnicity, age, or race. Minors of any nation may also participate, but must have a parent or guardian submit their video ON THEIR BEHALF. Minor status will be ascertained according to the customs and laws of the nation where the entrant resides.

Entry Rules:: First, the entrant must upload their video submission to their personal youtube account. Then, the entrant must tag the video submission specifically with the tag "whyJWST" on the youtube website.. Finally, the entrant must Send their name, email, entrant-created username or handle, and link to the youtube video submission to the following email address: By entering, each participant agrees to be bound by the rules and regulations of this competition. One Winner from the pool of entrants will be selected by a panel of judges comprised of saveJWST volunteers. The Winner will be selected on the success by which their video articulates an emotional and/or intellectual connection to the James Webb Space Telescope, as determined by the sole discretion of the judges. SaveJWST volunteers reserve the right to disqualify any submission saveJWST determines is offensive, inappropriate, not in keeping with saveJWST's image, or that an Entrant has not otherwise complied with these Official Contest Rules. The Winner will be selected on Friday October 21, 2011 by the judges, whose decision shall be final. The Winner will be notified by email to the email address provided in the Entrant's email within approximately 5 of days of the judging and are required to respond within 3 days of transmission of that email notice. If winner fails to respond within that time period, the prize will be forfeited and awarded to an alternate winner chosen from the remaining entrants in the pool. By entering, all entrants release saveJWST, and its volunteers, affiliates, subsidiaries, vendors, agencies, suppliers and all others associated with the development or execution of this Competition from any and all liability with respect to, or in any way arising from, this Contest or the acceptance, possession or use of any prizes including, without limitation, liability for any personal injury, damage or loss.

Faulkes Telescope. Click to Embiggen
Use of Entrant Information:: Entrant information will be used wholly by the saveJWST volunteers. However, an entry, except where prohibited by law, constitutes a grant of permission to saveJWST or its agents to include the winner's name in connection with a Winner's List without further notice. The use of personal contact information gathered in connection with this promotion will be treated in accordance with respect to privacy and not released to anyone under any condition OUTSIDE of this competition.The entrant is directed to created a username for the purposes of protecting the entrant's privacy.

Prizes: The winner of the whyJWST Video Competition will be granted 1 hour of access to the 2-meter Faulkes Telescope In Hawai'i or Australia to image any celestial object of their choosing (excluding planets in our Solar System) between 0900 and 1700 UT, Monday-Friday. The two telescopes, can be operated remotely from a personal computer. The winner will be able to log in with a specially created account, slew to the target, and image the heavens for 1 hour. If the hour is lost to weather or any technical issues, the account will have another 60 minutes granted to it. For more information about the Faulkes Telescopes, check out their website: Note that planets may not be observed, as they cause significant ghost image on the CCD.

Original Work of Authorship:

A) By submitting an entry, Entrant warrants, certifies and represents that: (i) the video submission is original to Entrant, he/she is the sole and exclusive owner of the copyrights in and to the video submission, and has obtained a release from all persons appearing in the video, and from all owners of property appearing in the video submitted for consideration; and (ii) Entrant has the full and exclusive right, power and authority to submit the video entry, and to grant the saveJWST volunteers the right to present the submission to the public, without further compensation.

B) If the submission contains any material or elements that are not owned by the Entrant and/or that are subject to the rights of third parties, the Entrant is responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the video, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the use and exhibition of the Video by the saveJWST volunteers. This includes, but is not limited to, music and images protected by copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, right of privacy, right of publicity, and any other third party rights. Upon request, Entrant shall provide saveJWST with copies of all such consents/releases/permissions.

Faulkes Telescope. Click to Embiggen

Grant of License: By submitting an entry and in consideration of the opportunity to win the prize described herein which Entrant acknowledges is good and valuable consideration, Entrant grants the saveJWST volunteers the perpetual right and license to reproduce, distribute, transmit, and/or display any and all parts of the Video in all existing and future media, including but not limited to the saveJWST websites, or in any other manner in saveJWST's discretion, without attribution or further compensation. Use of a submission by the saveJWST volunteers does not suggest in any way that the Entrant is a winner.

Right of Privacy: By submitting an entry and in consideration of the opportunity to win the prize described herein which Entrant acknowledges is good and valuable consideration, Entrant grants the saveJWST volunteers the right and permission to use his/her name, voice, biographical information, likeness, and any other indication of Entrant's identity, and any statements made by Entrant, including excerpts thereof (collectively the "Publicity Rights"), in connection with the Entrant's video and the #whyJWST Video Competition, for use on the saveJWST websites and for display on the savetheJWST channel, in all forms of media, worldwide in perpetuity, without further notice or compensation, except where prohibited law. Entrant agrees to release and discharge the saveJWST volunteers from all claims for damages arising from or relating to publication, use or distribution of the Video and Publicity Rights.LEGAL WARNING: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN INDIVIDUAL, WHETHER OR NOT AN ENTRANT, TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE, DESTROY, TAMPER OR VANDALIZE THE WEBSITE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS PROMOTION, OR INTERFERE WITH THE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST, IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS, AND THE saveJWST VOLUNTEERS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES AND DILIGENTLY PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AGAINST ANY SUCH INDIVIDUAL TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

Faulkes Telescope. Click to Embiggen

Good Luck!

And follow the competition at our youtube channel: savetheJWST youtube channel

Faulkes Telescope Australia. Click to Embiggen

Monday, September 12, 2011

US Senate Subcommittee is Set to Vote Sep 14 2011

Greetings Science Warriors:

As you may have heard through our facebook page, the next vote for the fate of the James Webb Space Telescope has been tentatively scheduled for September 14th 2011 in the United States Senate (check this link for details). Instead of dealing with the US House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science we are dealing with the US Senate version of that same subcommittee.

While this is not a vote with the full House or the full Senate, this new vote is still vital to our efforts to save JWST. If we succeed in getting a positive vote now, it means the James Webb Space Telescope has a real chance to fly. Our plan is to get the word out to all of the JWST supporters and to have as many of you contacting Senators as possible. Together, we will be heard!

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Now is the time to speak out. If you haven't contacted your senators yet then, please, take 5 minutes and send them an email or a fax right now. Take 10 minutes and call their office today and tell them that the James Webb Space Telescope should not be allowed to become the next failed Superconducting Super Collidor. Get as many friends as you can to do the same. Tell them that the United States of America deserves to keep our global leadership in science. Tell them that the US of A deserves to have these jobs. Tell them to properly fund the JWST!

And especially if you have already contacted your reps, then CONTACT THEM AGAIN.
If you are unaware of who your senators are, the click on this link to find out. If you need talking points, then read this fantastic summary about JWST (be sure to check out the MYTHS section!).

In addition to contacting your own Senators, send emails, faxes and phone calls to actual US Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. You will find their contact information below:

Committee Membership

Majority Members (Democrats)
Member NameDC PhoneDC FAXContact Form
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) [Chairman]202-224-4654202-224-8858
Dan Inouye (D-HI)202-224-3934202-224-6747
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)202-224-4242202-224-3479
Herb Kohl (D-WI)202-224-5653202-224-9787
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)202-224-3841202-228-3954
Jack Reed (D-RI)202-224-4642202-224-4680
Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ)202-224-3224202-228-4054
Ben Nelson (D-NE)202-224-6551202-228-0012
Mark Pryor (D-AR)202-224-2353202-228-0908
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)202-224-2315202-228-6321
Minority Members (Republicans)
Member NameDC PhoneDC FAXContact Form
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) [Ranking Member]202-224-5922202-224-0776
Richard Shelby (R-AL)202-224-5744202-224-3416 …
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)202-224-2541202-224-2499 …
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)202-224-4944202-228-3398
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)202-224-6665202-224-5301 …
Ron Johnson (R-WI)202-224-5323202-228-6965 …
Susan Collins (R-ME)202-224-2523202-224-2693 …
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)202-224-5972202-224-3808 …

We can do this, Science Warriors. Check with the facebook page for updates