Nasa’s new space telescope and its search for extraterrestrial life

On 22 December, if all goes to plan, the £7.5bn James Webb space telescope (JWST) will be blasted into space on top of a giant European Ariane 5 rocket. As it travels to its final destination – a point about a million miles away – it will begin to unfold its gold, honeycombed mirror; a vast light-catching bucket that could give us a view of the universe deeper and more sensitive than we’ve ever had before. JWST could also reveal clues about possible life-supporting planets inside our galaxy. One astronomer who will be eagerly deciphering those clues is Prof Beth Biller, who joined Guardian science editor Ian Sample this week.. Help support our independent journalism at