Birds Up Podcast

Ep. 12: James Webb Space Telescope & UTSA - Dr. Chris Packham, UTSA Astronomy Professor and Astrophysicist

Episode Summary

Born and raised in Billericay (United Kingdom), Dr. Packham attended the University of Hertfordshire to pursue his undergraduate degree and doctor of philosophy. He then took a JSPS fellowship at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the start of a long-lasting collaboration with Japanese astronomers, including teaching at the University of Tokyo. He next worked as a support astronomer at the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, where he lead the development of the near-IR adaptive optimized instrument INGRID for the 4.2m WHT. He then moved to the University of Florida working with Charlie Telesco on T-ReCS for the 8.1m Gemini South and CanariCam for the 10.4m Gran Telescopio Canarias. Dr. Packham partnered with Terry Jones at the University of Minnesota to build a 1-5μm adaptive optimized polarimetry instrument called MMT-POL. He came to UTSA in 2012, and in the summer 2021, he was honored to be a fellow at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. In December of 2021, the world’s largest space telescope was launched into space from French Guiana to travel to its destination 1 million miles from Earth. From this location, the behemoth will provide astronomers with exquisite images of the cosmos just after the Big Bang. It will also probe exoplanet atmospheres and peer into the maelstrom surrounding super massive black holes in distant galaxies. The James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, achieves this through a mirror that collects seven times more light than the Hubble Space Telescope, operating deep into the infrared spectrum. As a lead on this project, Dr. Packham has arranged for UTSA to be a partner in research with this telescope!

Episode Notes