The James Webb Space Telescope

March 15, 2017

 

 

The James Webb Space Telescope, also called Webb or JWST, is a large, space-based observatory that is scheduled to launch in 2018. JWST is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

This space-based observatory is named after James E. Webb (1906- 1992), NASA's second administrator. Webb is best known for leading Apollo, a series of lunar exploration programs that landed the first humans on the Moon.

What makes the James Webb Space Telescope special?

The JWST will allow astronomers to see objects further out in space than ever before. It can detect light through the space dust that can block other telescopes.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be located approximately 1 million miles (1.5 million km) away from the Earth, (Hubble is in low-Earth orbit, approximately 375 miles (600 km) away from the Earth). That gives the JWST a better view, but puts it beyond the reach of any manned vehicle if repairs are required.

 

JWST mirrors

The primary mirror is made of 18 separate segments that unfold and adjust to shape after launch. The mirrors are made of ultra-lightweight beryllium. JWST’s biggest feature is a tennis court sized five-layer sunshield that attenuates heat from the Sun more than a million times, because some of the instruments work better at colder temperatures.

JWST will be able to see what the universe looked like around a quarter of a billion years (possibly back to 100 million years) after the Big Bang, when the first stars and galaxies started to form.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide.

 

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