The Hunt for Planet B is a documentary from CNN about the creation and planning and building of the James Webb Space Telescope. This documentary focuses on several of the women scientists who participated in the research for the project. Some of the women included in the film are Natalie Batalha, Amy Lo, Jill Tarter, Sara Seager, and Maggie Turnbull.
Each of the women scientists had their own specialty. Sara Seager researches exoplanets, or planets that orbit stars outside our own solar system. Jill Tarter works on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) project. She’s the woman the character played by Jodie Foster in Contact was based on.
The science and engineering that went into building and launching the telescope are the work of some of the finest minds in the world. I appreciated the approach here that looked at some of the women scientists on the project.
The film was released before the telescope launched in December of 2021, so it wasn’t known yet if the complicated mechanics of unfolding the various surfaces used to collect infrared light would work.
It did work. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the spectacular images coming from deep space taken by the telescope. You can see many of them at NASAs site. I follow the NASA page for the telescope on Facebook and am dazzled by photos from space almost every day.
The Webb telescope is a million miles from earth. It orbits the sun, not the earth. It is aimed into deep space and captures images of galaxies and much more at great distances from the earth.
The Hunt for Planet B is available on Prime Video or Max. Some months ago I watched a similar film on Netflix called UNKNOWN: Cosmic Time Machine. It was more focused on the engineering problems that needed to be solved to launch the telescope all folded up and then unfold it in space. Both of these docs are worth watching and very interesting.