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A Brief History of Building a Time Machine: Developing NIRCam on the James Webb Space Telescope and Recent Findings

January 19 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Where did we come from? How did the universe begin? Are we Alone? These are basic questions that people have been asking for years. The iconic Hubble Space Telescope has helped us better understand the universe around us. Even before Hubble was launched, scientists were asking, what’s next? More than 25 years ago, science teams began working on this. ‘Next’ is now the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Its major science objectives include: 1) Detect the first stars to ever emit light, 2) Show us how galaxies and stars were formed in the early universe and 3) Study planets orbiting other stars outside our solar system. It was successfully launched on Christmas day, December 25th, 2021. It reached its orbital parking space at L2, a million miles away, slowly cooled down per plan, and completed all its commissioning tasks. On July 11th, 2022; JWST, infrared Camera (NIRCam), and the other science instruments (SIs) were ready for science operations. NIRCam and the other SIs, have all been providing exceptional science data that service all mission objectives. Bruce Steakley, retired NIRCam Chief Systems Engineer and Program Manager, will take us through major observatory and NIRCam driving requirements with a deep dive into building NIRCam. Along the way, the talented teams faced significant challenges, some expected and some not. Good plans, ingenuity, attention to detail, perseverance, bad luck, and good luck all are part of the development story that led to its exceptional success. JWST images and science data are enabling a new era in astronomy. Meanwhile, work is already underway for another leap in technology and system capability beyond JWST. If you’re interested in an authoritative site on the JWST deployment timeline, its current status, and recent images; check this out:

This event is exclusively for in-person attendance, and walk-ins cannot be accommodated due to limited room capacity. The specific address will be provided to those who have registered two days prior to and on the day of the event.

Participation in the event entails a fee of 5 USD for each adult (18+) who wishes to avail themselves of the dinner provided. Additionally, attendees have the option to bring up to three children (5-17 years old) to the dinner at no extra cost. Registration for the presentation-only segment is free. (Under 5 will not be able to understand or appreciate the presentation, and would require a babysitter).


  • Dinner: 6-7pm (registration required, 5 USD per adult. If you plan to bring children (5+), kindly register them as well)
  • Presentation: 7-8:30pm (registration required, free)



January 19
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Categories:
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Sunnyvale, California
The specific address will be provided to those who have registered two days prior to and on the day of the event.
Sunnyvale, CA United States
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