A NASA scientist will be coming to Cal Poly’s campus Thursday, March 3, to host a discussion on the James Webb Space Telescope. 

The James Webb Space Telescope is a large observatory that currently orbits the sun nearly a million miles from Earth. It was designed to view and examine the formation of stars and planetary systems.  

The presentation will be free and available to all students both online and in-person, at the Advanced Technologies Laboratory, starting at 7 p.m. Registration will be required, however, for both the live and online event. 

Stefanie Milam, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, will be hosting the presentation titled “The Journey of the James Webb Space Telescope: Where We Are and Where We Are Going,” according to a Cal Poly press release. 

Stefanie Milam | Courtesy

Milam, who serves as the deputy scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope project, will be diving into the intricacies and capabilities of the $10 million space observatory. She will discuss the main science themes of the machine before concluding with NASA’s plan for the project this coming year.  

The Webb Telescope stands today as the most powerful and complex cosmic observatory ever built and has the potential to unveil mysteries of the universe we have never before seen or imagined, according to Milam. 

“We are going to rewrite the textbooks,” Milam told the Cosmic Companion podcast before the telescope’s launch on Christmas Day. “This is the next step for the discovery of humankind.”

Over two stories tall and with a shield as wide as a tennis court, the Webb Telescope dwarfs the Hubble Telescope in both size and capabilities. 


Stefanie Milam | Courtesy

According to Milam, the observatory will be able to help NASA unlock answers to big questions, like exploring the existence of other lifeforms in space.

Milam was appointed to her role in 2014 and is an expert in laboratory modeling of astrochemistry and molecular astrophysics of the interstellar medium, according to the Cal Poly press release. 

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