Some time ago I saw the excellent Jon Butterworth of UCL talk about his new book and his work in particle physics with the LHC at our local Oxford Skeptics in the Pub evening, and while I was there the organisers invited me to speak at a future event. I enjoy pubs, and I enjoy telling people about my work, so next Wednesday 1 October I’ll be in St Aldates Tavern to talk about the James Webb Space Telescope and my work on the MIRI instrument. I’m very grateful to the SitP organisers for inviting me, as these events are always good fun. The talk will start at 7:30 pm so if you’re in the area, please pop in for a beer.
The timing is rather good, as MIRI is just finishing its 2nd test campaign at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. At Goddard the instrument is now integrated with ISIM, the Integrated Science Instrument Module, together with all the other JWST instrument: NIRCam, NIRSpec, FGS and NIRISS. I spent a couple of weeks at Goddard in August to support the testing, and it was great to meet some of my colleagues working on the other instruments. Though we all still have our work cut out for us, it’s wonderful to see everything coming together after so many years of hard work by so many people all over North America and Europe.
And finally, my old institute MPIA in Heidelberg is hosting a conference this week on future exoplanet observations with MIRI and the other JWST instruments. Research into exoplanets has really come into maturity since work started on JWST, so this is an area where scientists are still learning and exploring what the new telescope will be able to do. ESA will begin preparing the community for JWST science operations next year, so now is the perfect time to start building some momentum. Due to my busy travel schedule I’m not able to be at the conference in person but I’m following on twitter via hashtag #exoJWST2014.