Scientists Excited About Webb Space Telescope’s First Launch

A delay of several years at a cost much higher than anticipated will not prevent NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope from ushering in a new era in astronomy, as it will collect data on the infancy of the universe, the formation of stars. and will help determine if there are planets suitable for human life outside the Solar System. The orbital infrared observatory, designed to be about 100 times more sensitive than its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, will lift off on December 22 in an Ariane 5 rocket from a sector in French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America. “We are about to embark on this incredible journey of discovery,” said astronomer Klaus Pontoppidan, a Webb project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. “We really mean discovery because Webb has the raw power to reveal the unexpected. We can plan what we think we are going to see. But at the end of the day we know that nature will surprise us most of the time.” The telescope, which has four science instruments, was developed in a NASA-led collaboration with European and Canadian space agencies. Northrop Grumman Corp. is the prime contractor. The launch vehicle is part of the European contribution. A 2015 drawing supplied by Northrop Grumman through NASA shows how the Webb Space Telescope will mount in space. It was developed at a cost of $ 8.8 billion, with operating expenses projected to bring the total bill to around $ 9.66 billion. A US government office said the price has nearly doubled since NASA established the spending base in 2009 after cost overruns. NASA had hoped to launch the project in 2011, but the date was repeatedly pushed back. Scientists plan to use the telescope to learn about all phases of the universe’s history dating back just after the Big Bang event some 13.8 billion years ago, while also studying exoplanets, planets beyond our Solar System, as well as worlds. closer to home, like our planetarium neighbor Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan. Webb will primarily observe the universe in infrared, while Hubble has examined it since its launch in 1990 primarily in ultraviolet and optical wavelengths. Webb has a much larger light-gathering area, allowing it to look at greater distances, thus further back in time than Hubble. In this 2017 photo released by NASA, technicians lift the assembled mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope. “We are looking forward to this and we are getting very, very close,” said Greg Robinson, Webb’s program director at the US space agency’s Washington headquarters. The telescope arrived in Guyana in October after a 16-day sea voyage from California through the Panama Canal to Port de Pariacabo on the Kourou River. After launch, it will unfold on a month-long journey of 1.6 million kilometers to an orbit more distant than Hubble, beyond the Moon. “We’re going to look at everything in the universe that we can see. We want to know: how did we get here from the Big Bang, how did it happen? So, we will observe,” said John Mather, lead scientist for Webb’s project at the Flight Center. NASA’s Goddard Spacecraft at Greenbelt, Maryland. Their mission objectives include searching for the first luminous galaxies or objects formed after the Big Bang and learning how galaxies evolved from their initial birth to the present day. “We want to observe the growth of those first galaxies,” Mather said. The objectives also include observing the formation of stars and the planets that surround them. Mather said Webb can look into the clouds of gas and dust where stars are born. Until now, the dust from those clouds obscured the view. “Infrared light will surround the dust grains instead of bouncing around, so we can see inside with the Webb telescope. And that’s one of our main goals: to see how the stars grow, with their young planets,” Mather said. Connect with the ! Subscribe to our YouTube channel and activate notifications, or follow us on social networks: Facebook, Twitter

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