Extraterrestrial Life and Your Smartphone’s Screen

In December, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its partners plan to launch the James Webb Space Telescope. A technological marvel 100 times as powerful as the Hubble telescope, it has enough visual acuity to examine the atmospheres of planets far outside our solar system for evidence of extraterrestrial life.

The Webb, a NASA collaboration with space agencies in Europe and Canada, will do its work at an orbit around the sun 1 million miles away from our world. Here on Earth, though, part of the technology that went into the giant telescope is also visible when you look at the screen of a smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, or laptop computer with the latest high-resolution displays.