The telescope itself will operate in wavelengths from 0.6 µm (orange) to 28.5 µm (mid-infrared), so it reaches a bit into the visible spectrum, but it's still going to be aimed away from Earth, and photograph distant galaxies.

What I'm interested in is, will the satellite contain any cameras that can take common visible light photos of Earth? Just like DSCOVR can take impressive images of Earth and the Moon from $L_1$, will we have similar images from James Webb at $L_2$, of the permanent corona eclipse of the Sun by Earth, or the always-crescent Moon?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hi SF. I really don't see how the question of whether the telescope will have any visible-spectrum cameras touches on the subject of Lagrangian points, so I removed that tag as it does not seem to help categorize the question. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 10:20
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling: The telescope will be placed at L2, thus the pictures (if any) will be taken from there. It's a place with very interesting views. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 10:22
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    $\begingroup$ I don't doubt that, but still feel the question of whether the telescope itself will have visible-spectrum cameras do not require knowledge about Lagrangian points to answer. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 10:25
  • $\begingroup$ related: space.stackexchange.com/questions/14346/… $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 17:45

2 Answers 2


Two things here:

  1. The main physical processes JWST is concerned about take place in the Infrared, and
  2. JWST is not a Earth observatory

It will have the NIRCam that can reach slightly into the visible spectrum, but this will definitely not be used to make photos of Earth. All of its science instruments will absolutely have to point away from Earth (also Sun and Moon) in order to be cooled down sufficiently to 50K operational temperatures.
The part of JWST's servicing module that penetrates through the sun-shield contains mainly reaction wheels and Earth communication antennae, but no other optical camera.


As far as I've been able to find, JWST will not contain any cameras other than its main instruments. I won't rule out some small cameras to monitor the unfolding of the sunshield and primary mirror, but haven't found anything definitive on that.


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