NASA says it will not rename the James Webb Space Telescope despite ongoing controversy.
The instrument, known as JWST, is the space agency’s great hope for finding evidence of life on other planets. The $10 billion telescope includes advanced and highly precise instruments that will allow it to see light from the beginning of the universe and “sniff” the atmospheres of distant planets.
It is perhaps NASA’s most high-profile imminent project and is often seen as the successor to the famous and important Hubble Space Telescope.
But some argue that naming the telescope after James Webb is inappropriate, especially given its importance. He says it should be given a new name before it is launched into space in December.
NASA named the telescope because James Webb served as NASA’s administrator during the period it worked to bring humans to the Moon as part of the Apollo program.
But it is the work he did before landing the role that has proved controversial. Webb was the Under Secretary of State during the “Lavender Scare,” during which many LGBTQ people were inspired by roles in government service.
It is history that the authors of the petition to rename the telescope told when they called on NASA to choose a new name. They say that the mission “reflects the rainbow of possible universes that our community envisions, dreams, and works on, and that its name should reflect its future legacy” and that the name should remain the same.
The authors also included scientists themselves who expect to use binoculars after scanning the sky. More than 1,200 people signed that petition.
As the controversy continued, NASA said its historians would investigate Webb’s conduct. It hasn’t said how it conducted the research or how it reached its conclusions – but told NPR that the investigation had concluded that the name change was not necessary.
“We have done as much as we can at this point and have finished our research efforts,” senior science communications officer Karen Fox said in an email. “Those efforts have not uncovered evidence that warrants a name change.”
It has already drawn criticism from those who support the name change, but also for its lack of transparency.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /