James Webb Space Telescope launch: Know all about world's most powerful space telescope

James Webb Space Telescope launch:  The James Webb Space Telescope will aim to find the first galaxies that formed in the early universe and look through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems.

Created On: Dec 25, 2021 13:24 ISTModified On: Dec 26, 2021 13:47 IST
James Webb Space Telescope
James Webb Space Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope launch: The James Webb Space Telescope, the world's largest and most powerful space telescope, was launched on December 25, 2021 beginning a one-million-mile journey to see 13.5 billion years into the past. 

The James Webb Space Telescope was launched aboard Ariane 5 rocket from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. The 14,000-pound instrument was released into space after a 26-minute ride. 

The telescope will take about a month to reach its destination in the solar orbit, which would be roughly 1 million miles from the Earth, four times away from the moon. The project is a result of collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency & the Canadian Space Agency.

US President Joe Biden tweeted, "Congratulations @NASA and all who made today’s launch of the James Webb telescope possible. Webb is a shining example of the power of what we can accomplish when we dream big. We've always known that this project would be a risky endeavor, but with big risk comes big rewards."

James Webb Space Telescope Goal

The James Webb Space Telescope will aim to find the first galaxies that formed in the early universe and look through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems. The space telescope will be a giant leap forward in the quest to understand the Universe and its origins. 

The powerful space telescope will aim to examine every phase of cosmic history, starting from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang to the formation of galaxies, stars and planets and the evolution of our solar system.

Read more: NASA's Spacecraft Touches Solar Atmosphere for First Time in History

Mission Objectives

Find first galaxies formed after Big Bang: The James Webb Space Telescope will be like a powerful time machine with infrared vision that will look back over 13.5 billion years to see the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the early universe.

Learn how galaxies evolved: Its unprecedented infrared sensitivity will help astronomers compare the faintest, earliest galaxies to today's grand spirals and ellipticals. It will help deepen the understanding of how galaxies assemble over billions of years.

Observe the formation of stars: The telescope will be able to see right through massive clouds of dust that are opaque to visible-light observatories like Hubble and see how stars and planetary systems are born.

Look for the potential for life in other planetary systems: The telescope will also be able to tell more about the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. It could even find the building blocks of life elsewhere in the universe. 

James Webb Space Telescope Instruments

Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam)

Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec)

Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI)

Fine Guidance Sensors/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS)

James Webb Space Telescope major innovations

The world's most powerful, most expensive and largest telescope comprises following innovations-

Lightweight optics

Deployable sun shield

Folding segmented mirror

Improved Detectors

Cryogenic actuators & mirror control


James Webb Space Telescope vs Hubble

The James Webb Space Telescope will aim to replace its 30-year-old predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble orbits the Earth from 340 miles away, passing in and out of the planet's shadow every 90 minutes.

The James Webb Telescope is named after James Edwin Webb, who was an American government official who served as Undersecretary of State from 1949–1952. He was appointed as the second administrator of NASA from February 14, 1961, to October 7, 1968. James Webb oversaw NASA during most of its formative decade of the 1960s. 

The James Webb Telescope is expected to be about 100 times more sensitive than the Hubble telescope. It is expected to transform scientists' understanding of the universe. 

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