The Night Kitchen Podcast
One Year after the 2021 James Webb
Space Telescope (JWST) Launch
On Christmas Day 2021, humanity awakened to learn that the long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) had launched. The world waited and watched for any images this telescope might return to us. What would Webb find? How would it affect the world? It wasn’t too long before the first images were canvassed across every screen. The telescope’s first full-color images and spectroscopic data were released during a televised broadcast at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The Carina Nebula, Stephan’s Quintet, and the Southern Ring Nebula were some of the images the world was finally able to preview. But what was the science behind them? What additional information did Webb capture? How could these images be interpreted to the blind and low vision community?
Josh Urban, in partnership with the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, sought to learn about Webb's observations and design a tactile representation of its findings. Thus, a program was born! Youth ages 7-17 were invited to be part of a team of unique thinkers to share their input and perspectives on how a tactile representation could be achieved. On July 27th, a two-part virtual program entitled “Transcribing the Sky” was hosted by Mr. Urban. Nadiya, a middle schooler with a knack for science, joined the program. Through discussions and experimentation, the group produced several iterations until a final prototype was created.
The group decided to create a tactile representation of a star test image. This model is key to understanding how the JWST “sees” stars. Using a 3D printer, our image was brought to life. Braille text and an audio QR code were also added to describe the image. To learn more about the JWST star image, listen to the audio description by Josh Urban below.
Interested in what was created? To commemorate the first-year launch of the JWST, we invite you to experience the tactile image created by our program. Give it a try, and offer your feedback by visiting the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. If you would like to 3D print our prototype, download the file for free from our website. This is only the beginning! We anxiously await more discoveries from the JWST.
Audio Description of 3D print