James Webb Space Telescope

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Webb Telescope News

Launch: March 30, 2021
Status: In development

Billed as the successor to the famed Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) is the most complex and powerful telescope ever built. Webb will be the foremost space observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. The telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in March 2021.

The Webb will use infrared light to study every phase in cosmic history, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of stellar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System. The science goals for the Webb can be grouped into four themes:

  • Search for the earliest stars and galaxies
  • Map the evolution of galaxies
  • Study the formation of stars and planets in the Universe today
  • Search for the potential for life in the Universe.

Positioned 1,5 million km from Earth in the cold darkness of space, the Webb will be able to discover and study objects thousands of times fainter than those seen by current telescopes. Weighing about 6500 kg with a sunshield the size of a tennis court, this enormous space observatory's 6.5-metre primary mirror will be composed of 18 hexagonal panels and will be cooled to an impressive -233 degrees Celsius (40 Kelvin). The telescope will be folded to fit inside its rocket for launch, and will open automatically like a flower once in space.

The James Webb Space Telescope is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency.

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