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What's On Calendar


Online Talk: Building the James Webb Space Telescope
Evening Events
Online Talk: Building the James Webb Space Telescope Monday, 13 December 2021 07:00 PM

How do you build and launch the world's biggest space telescope? Join Piyal Samara-Ratna, James Webb Space Telescope engineer, and Dynamic Earth’s very own Planetarium Manager, Dr Alastair Bruce to find out!

Piyal Samara-Ratna was lucky enough to have front-row seat in the design, build and testing of the James Webb Space Telescope. Starting as a junior engineer, he worked in an international team of more than 200 engineers to support the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) through its 10 year development. MIRI is one of Webb’s four science instruments, and is so sensitive it could see a candle on one of Jupiter’s moons! Piyal is now the lead mechanical engineer for the instrument and played a key role in delivering it to NASA and connecting it to Webb for its trip to space. Join Piyal to hear how MIRI was made and qualified for operation in space, and find out what it’s like to work on a ground-breaking international space project.

This event will be chaired by Dr Alastair Bruce, Planetarium Manager at Dynamic Earth.

Piyal Samara-Ratna is currently the Principal Engineer for the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology and Earth Observation Research Centre (METEOR) at Space Park Leicester. He graduated in 2004 with a Master in Mechanical Engineering from University College London and soon after joined the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester. As well at James Webb he has worked on a broad range of astronomy, planetary exploration and earth observation missions. With the engineering phase of the James Webb Space Telescope complete he is looking forward to seeing the fruits of everyone’s hard work.

Click here to book your place for the online talk!

To learn more about Webb and the people who have built and will use it, visit

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A number of our What's On activities are part of the National STEM Engagement Campaign.