On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2021, and as excitement builds for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) in October, ESA is highlighting women that play an important role in Europe’s contribution to Webb.
Webb, which is scheduled for launch on 31 October 2021, will be the next great space science observatory expected to make breakthrough discoveries in all fields of astronomy. It will look farther and deeper into the Universe than ever before: from our own Solar System, to exoplanets around other stars, and the birth of the first stars and galaxies.
ESA is one of the partners in the international Webb mission alongside NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Europe plays a crucial role by contributing to two instruments (NIRSpec and MIRI), and by launching the telescope on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou. ESA scientists are also supporting Webb mission operations at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, USA.
On International Women’s Day, which was first celebrated in four European countries in 1911, ESA joins in to honour women’s achievements in making our upcoming space observatory a reality. We have asked women working on the Webb telescope about their challenges, their career highlights, what they’re looking forward to about the Webb mission, and their advice to young people who might be considering careers in the space industry.
Diversity is placed high on ESA’s corporate agenda and the agency aims to inspire more women to pursue space careers, at ESA and beyond; to support more women at all levels of the organisation; and to encourage girls to explore their interest in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) subjects.