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NASA's Webb Telescope To Have A Texas-Sized Presence At The South By Southwest Festival

GREENBELT, Md., Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Everything is bigger in Texas and a life-sized model of the world's largest space telescope, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will be on display at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival along with Webb-related exhibits, educational events, interactives, visualizations, scientists and much more. The NASA events at SXSW will occur March 8-10, 2013 in Austin.  

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO )

"The Webb telescope model is coming to SXSW just in time to highlight that this spring NASA is beginning to bring together some of the major parts of the observatory," said Eric Smith, Webb telescope deputy program director at NASA Headquarters, Washington. "In 2013, NASA will start to integrate the four science instruments into the structure that will attach to the telescope."

"This will be the Webb Telescope's biggest outreach event of the year at one of the best festivals in the country," said Amber Straughn, astrophysicist on the Webb telescope team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Northrop Grumman is bringing their Webb telescope full scale model, we are organizing an exciting NASA Experience Tent which will showcase Microsoft Research's World Wide Telescope, and we are organizing star parties with speakers ranging from astrophysicists to astronauts to Nobel laureates."

There will also be an official SXSW panel about the Webb telescope on Sunday, March 10 at the Omni Center. For details: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2013/events/event_IAP4124. Although most of the NASA Webb telescope events at SXSW will be free and open to the public, the NASA Webb telescope panel event requires a registration fee.

NASA is partnering with Northrop Grumman, Space Telescope Science Institute, Ball Aerospace, Microsoft Research, and the University of Texas' Astronomy Department to bring an amazing display of science and technology to SXSW.

The Webb telescope life-sized model is as big as a tennis court. It was built by NASA's prime contractor to provide a better understanding of the size, scale and complexity of the observatory. The model is constructed mainly of aluminum and steel, weighs 12,000 lbs., and is approximately 80 feet long, 40 feet wide and 40 feet tall. The model requires two trucks to ship it and assembly takes a crew of 12 approximately four days. The Webb telescope full-scale model will be on display on March 8, 9 and 10.

In addition to the full-scale Webb telescope model, visitors can go to the NASA Experience Tent which will be filled with displays, videos, multimedia products, and hands-on activities. As part of the NASA tent, Microsoft Research will be running their World Wide Telescope on a 10 by 20 foot visualization wall which lets users fly through the universe and explore planets, stars, etc. Think of it as a giant flat planetarium. There will also be live video chats from both NASA Johnson Space Center and NASA Goddard. At Johnson, the Webb telescope will be tested in a giant chamber, while at Goddard, parts of the Webb are being assembled and tested in a giant cleanroom.

There's also a large educational aspect to Webb telescope's presence at SXSW. Local Austin K through 12 students have created Webb telescope-themed art/science projects that will be on display. Visitors may also encounter a "sidewalk astronomer" armed with a portable projection system that can project astronomy presentations on blank walls. Visitors can see the free e-books on Hubble and the Webb telescope and also pick up a free Webb telescope comic book called " Infrared Beyond the Visible."

Senior Project Scientist on the James Webb Space Telescope and Nobel Prize winning Astrophysicist John Mather will be one of the special guests at the festival.

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