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Montana connection to NASA's new space telescope

Montana connection to NASA's new space telescope
Posted at 3:30 PM, Dec 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-26 17:30:07-05

HELENA — NASA’s $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is set to launch on Christmas day. If all goes according to plan, it will be the premier device for observing the cosmos.

JWST has been more than a decade in the making, with numerous engineers, scientists, mathematicians and educators working on the project. One of those educators is Ryan Hannahoe, current executive director of the Montana Learning Center (MLC).

While attending Montana State University, Hannahoe worked as an intern for the JWST mission. He helped coordinate JWST's role in various educational and public outreach events, such as an astronomy night on the national mall and an informal exhibit at a D.C.-area museum. Hannahoe also developed educational content, trained educators and worked with others, such as celebrity Bill Nye the Science Guy, to bring information about the telescope to the public.

Hannahoe’s passion for the cosmos hasn’t dwindled since the internship. As executive director of MLC he has overseen the growth of their astronomy programs. MLC is now home to the state’s largest public-use telescope, an All-Sky Cam system that can capture and track fireballs and other meteors, and a weather station.

JWST is scheduled for launch on Saturday, December 25 at 7:20 am EST. It is NASA’s largest and most powerful space science telescope ever constructed.