NASA recognises UK ATC staff for their work on the James Webb Space Telescope
11 Jun 2024



JWST Instrument Commissioning Team received the NASA Honor Award (Group) Silver Achievement Medal.




​The Instrument Commissioning Team includes scientists and engineers from across the UK, based at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh and RAL Space in Oxfordshire.

JWST is the most powerful telescope ever launched into space. Scientists and engineers in the UK were crucial to the development, assembly, testing and integration of the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) one of the four scientific instruments on board.

MIRI was designed, built and tested by a European Consortium of 10 member countries led by the UK (in partnership with the US). The European contribution was led by Professor Gillian Wright CBE in her role as European Principal Investigator and as Director at the UK ATC.​

The UK contingent of the Instrument Commissioning Team worked 24 hours a day for 6 months. Calibrating, testing and preparing MIRI for its role capturing astounding images of the Universe and spectroscopic data on the chemical composition of exoplanets and stars. 

NASA stated: “The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's premier astrophysics observatory and an unqualified success. The dedicated teams that confirmed operations of the science instruments and subsystems during the 6 months of commissioning are the key to that success . . . For elevating the strengths and core values of [NASA], the JWST Instrument Commissioning Team is deserving of the Silver Achievement Medal . . . For outstanding expertise and tireless dedication to commission the world-class instruments and subsystems of JWST, producing never-before-seen images of the universe."