NASA’s next premier space observatory – the James Webb Space Telescope

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The Hubble Space Telescope is scheduled for retirement in 2018 to make way for the new space observatory. This modern telescope will let us see deeper into the universe. NASA’s administrator revealed that the project costs $8.8 billion. They will name the telescope after James Webb. He is one of the men behind the success of multiple space missions. As well, he brought us closer to our space dream.

James Webb served NASA for 7 years as the second administrator between 1961-1968. He led the space agency for the materialization of the lunar landing initiative of president Kennedy.

Today’s NASA chief commended the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as the telescope  that will let us travel back in time and shows us how the universe looked like 13 billion years ago. NASA’s space observatory asset is equipped with a gold-coated 21-foot mirror array. It can accumulate 7 times more light that the Hubble telescope. This new telescope can scan infrared spectrum, and this has the ability to see through the space dust. NASA’s two decades of innovation and hard work brought them the JWST.

How is this helping us?

With the JWST built, the deepest and the darkest regions of the universe could be magnified through its lenses. JWST will be able to discover livable exoplanets. Scientists believe that there is a great possibility of finding unexplored planets in our galaxy, which have enough water and oxygen to support life. “The built of the telescope and the newly innovated mirror could illuminate and magnify Megatron on planet X“, humorously remarks one of their scientists.

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JWST will have to cool around -220 degrees Celsius (-364 degrees F) so that it can detect infrared light. Also, to achieve the temperature requirements, the telescope needs to be coated with 5 layers of hair-like sheets that are thicker than the human’s hair. NASA finished the installation of these sheets a few months ago, marking the completion of the telescope.

NASA now works at battery testing, as to prevent any problems that might appear in the future. The Hubble telescope has issues that they don’t want to replicate in the new telescope. Fixing the telescope miles away from Earth would be a waste of resources and opportunity. That is why it’s crucial to rigorously test the telescope’s components, making it worthy of the upcoming space mission. The JWST is said to be fitted in an Ariane 5 rocket, then blast it out in space.

This how NASA will fit JWST in the rocket
This how NASA will fit JWST in the rocket

Testing

First phase of the test would be to blast the telescope with 150 decibels of sound to simulate the noise from the rocket’s thrusters. Second stage is cryogenic testing. Also, the telescope is pitted against extreme temperatures that are usually experienced in space. The final stage will be the performance test. It’s a great way to make sure that the telescope doesn’t have issues like the optical defects of the Hubble telescope.

JWST’s space mission is expected to commence in October 2018 on ESA’s reliable rocket, the Ariane 5. This will haul the JWST out to space and extend it to a 30-day one-million-mile Lagrange point. Seems like that’s where it will deploy the telescope’s antenna followed by the sun shield and the primary and secondary mirrors. After that comes the critical part: releasing the actual system.

Deploying the telescope in space will be a bet of billions of dollars which enables a great research opportunity. Therefore, we hope the mission will go according to plan.

What do you think about NASA’s JWST launch?

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