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James Webb Space Telescope
Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life

Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life

Understanding the origin of the Earth and its ability to support life is a key objective for all of astronomy and is central to the JWST science program. Key parts of the story include understanding the formation of small objects and how they combine to form large ones, learning how they reach their present orbits, learning how the large planets affect the others in systems like ours, and learning about the chemical and physical history of the small and large objects that formed the Earth and delivered the necessary chemical precursors for life. The cool objects and dust in the outer Solar System are evidence of conditions in the early Solar System, and are directly comparable to cool objects and dust observed around other stars.

The JWST Planetary Systems and Origins of Life theme goal is to determine the physical and chemical properties of planetary systems, and investigate the potential for the origins of life in those systems. JWST must provide near and mid IR imaging and spectroscopy to observe these objects.

JWST's planetary exploration theme also includes a rich solar system science case that includes imaging and spectroscopic characterization of Mars and the outer planets, Kuiper belt objects, dwarf planets, icy moons, and comets.