Our Place in the Universe: NASA's John Mather on the James Webb Telescope

In this episode...

Dr. John Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory located at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. He is also the Senior Project Scientist on the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be the largest, most powerful and complex space telescope ever built and launched into space. It will fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe.

Mather chalk board
Dr. John Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory located at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. He is also the Senior Project Scientist on the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be the largest, most powerful and complex space telescope ever built and launched into space. It will fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe.

The Very First Light

Mather was winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics with George Smoot for their work in the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission in the mid 1970s to measure the heat radiation from the Big Bang. Mather and his team measured the cosmic microwave background radiation—basically very faint radio noise astronomers had theorized could only come from the most distant events at the beginning of time as we know it—and their measurements confirmed the Big Bang theory to extraordinary accuracy.

The Premiere Space Observatory: The James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large infrared telescope will be the premier space observatory of the next decade, and Mather has been the Senior Scientist on this project from it’s origin in 1995. The James Webb is scheduled to launch in 2021 and will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

Time Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential People

In 2007, Mather was listed among Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in The World. In October, 2012, he was listed again by Time magazine in a special issue on New Space Discoveries as one of 25 most influential people in space.

Dr. Mather is the author of many publications, including his book, “The Very First Light.”

An image taken from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. I speak with John Mather, the esteemed Nobel laureate and science director of the Hubble's replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope.
Share this

Subscribe

Episode 1