NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam)

The Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) is JWST’s primary imager in the wavelength range from 0.6 to 5 μm. It consists of two, nearly identical, fully redundant modules, A and B, which view adjacent portions of the sky with a 44″ gap.

Each NIRCam module offers two, co-aligned, 2.2′ × 2.2′ fields of view (FOV)—one in the short-wavelength channel (0.6 < λ < 2.3 μm) and one in the long-wavelength channel (2.4 < λ < 5 μm). The short-wavelength FOVs are covered by a two-by-two pattern of detectors with 2040 x 2040 pixels, and the long-wavelength FOVs are covered by a single array of 2040 x 2040 pixels. Pixel scales of 0.032″/pix and 0.065″/pix provide Nyquist sampling at λ = 2.0 and 4.0 μm in the short- and long-wavelength channels, respectively. The short-wavelength channel provides five wide-band (R ~ 4), 4 medium (R~10), and three narrow-band (R~100) filters, while the long-wavelength channel contains three wide, eight medium, and four narrow-band filters.

NIRCam offers simultaneous full-field imaging in both modules with a variety of pre-defined dither patterns, coronagraphy for high-dynamic-range imaging of faint sources near bright sources (e.g. exoplanets or debris disks), subarray imaging for observations requiring fast readouts, and slitless spectroscopy at 2.4–5 μm with a resolving power R ~ 1700. NIRCam is also used for JWST wavefront sensing in controlling the segments of the primary mirror.

NIRCam was built by a team at the University of Arizona (UA) and Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center, led by Prof. Marcia Rieke at UA.