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James Webb Space Telescope | A Brief Review

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

By Geena Baide
January 7, 2022
UPDATED 12:00 PM EST

NASA technicians lift the James Webb Telescope, using a crane, and move it inside a clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, Webb is the most powerful space telescope ever built.

[Photo Credit: NASA/Desiree Stover]


The Mission


There’s much to be speculated regarding the launch of the JWST, one of them being, what’s its

mission in outer space? NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, launched on December 25, 2021,

near Kourou, French Guiana. It’s on a mission to study the extensive history of outer space, going back to exploring the very first stars and galaxies formed in the universe. It will travel for a period of a month to its destination and observing spot, Lagrange 2, about 1 million miles from the Earth. It’s the largest and most powerful space telescope ever launched in history, and it’s about 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope.


Things to Know


One important factor to note regarding this telescope is that it’s extremely important to aerospace engineers all across NASA, it’s a $10 billion endeavor, taking up about a quarter of NASA’s limited astronomy budget for many years. The James Webb Space Telescope was named after NASA’s 2nd administrator (James E. Webb), and the telescope has been in the making since

2004, with help from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). With the help of about 300 contributors in total, the James Webb Space Telescope was finally prepared to launch Christmas Day in 2021.


The Engineering


The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) operates using an infrared spectrum, and the infrared

radiation can penetrate the dust cloud therefore permitting us to observe the stars forming within celestial bodies. The mirror will help collect the best quality images by detecting any form of light and using it. The primary mirror is built of 18 hexagonal segments, each one measuring

4.23 meters (diameter). With this shape, the mirror can easily be folded and unfolded. There are

four main sectors to the telescope: the primary mirror is useful for accuracy purposes, the secondary mirror absorbs the light collected, the fine steering mirror is for filtering purposes, and lastly, the infrared detector helps photons convert into electrical voltage.


The backplane is the spine of the telescope and is the structure on which the mirrors and instruments will be mounted.


The Launch


The James Webb Space Telescope was launched by the Ariane 5 rocket on Christmas Day, 2021,

in Kourou, French Guinea. The location of the launch was strategic as it is known that countries on or near the equator can help give rockets an extra push when they launch. The Ariane 5 rocket is one of the world’s most reliable and the only rocket that met the standard for launching the James Webb Space Telescope. After the launch, it is currently going on a 29-day trip to locate the

oldest celestial bodies in the universe, and the very first objects in outer space. Since scientists

have worked on such an exciting mission for nearly two decades now, it’s safe to say that any major discoveries the JWST makes will be record-breaking and unlike anything ever seen before.


[Photo: Hardware Upgrade]


References


[1] https://webb.nasa.gov/content/about/launch.html


[2] https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-invites-public-to-share-excitement-of-webb-space-telescope-launch


[3] https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/assets/documents/WebbFactSheet.pdf





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