Update on the RAS and JWST

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) recently wrote to the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA to express its concerns about the original JWST naming process, the apparent failure to investigate James Webb’s background and the dismissal of requests to rename the telescope.

NASA has now published the findings of an investigation into Webb by its official historian. The Society welcomes this report, and notes that it finds no evidence that Webb took an active part in the ‘Lavender Scare’, the purges of gay men from the United States federal workforce in the 1940s and 1950s. NASA has also written to our sister organisation, the American Astronomical Society, stating that it will update its process for naming missions and buildings, which we also welcome in line with our earlier call for a more transparent approach.

In the light of this, the RAS will now allow authors submitting scientific papers to its journals to use either James Webb Space Telescope or the acronym JWST to refer to the observatory, should they wish to do so. Authors can spell out the acronym at first mention if they wish.

JWST is a remarkable observatory, and a triumph for the scientists and engineers who spent so many years conceiving, designing, building and finally launching it into space. The telescope has already delivered data and results beyond expectations, and we look forward to it playing a key role in understanding our Universe in the years ahead.

Media contacts

Dr Robert Massey
Royal Astronomical Society
Mob: +44 (0)7802 877 699

Gurjeet Kahlon
Royal Astronomical Society
Mob: +44 (0)7802 877 700

Submitted by Robert Massey on Thu, 22/12/2022 - 09:45