On December 25, 2021 after 30 years of design and testing the James Webb Space Telescope successfully launched on the European Ariane-5 rocket. At 7:20am EST JWST boosted from the Spaceport in French Guiana to orbit. The telescope will orbit the sun and remain roughly a million miles from Earth on the opposite side of our planet from the sun.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be the most important space observatory of the next decade, serving astronomers from all over the world. It is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
Webb is a remarkable feat of human engineering that took some serious teamwork by the three agencies. Over the life of development over 10,000 people worked on the telescope in 14 countries. The Canadian Space Agency and European Space Agency contributed scientific instruments that will navigate the telescope to its destination.
LOOKING BACK AT THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE, ALIEN LIFE
The $10 billion dollar James Webb Space Telescope, which has seen multiple precautionary launch delays. It is regarded as one of the greatest scientific endeavours in space history. The Webb telescope will detect and show the very first stars and galaxies to ever shine in the Universe. It will have the power to probe the atmospheres of distant planets to look for gases that might hint at the presence of life.
These stars in JWST’s purview are thought to have become visible about up to 200 million years after the Big Bang, over 13.5 billion years ago and will have taken billions of years to travel the cosmos.
It should be possible for Webb to detect the moment when the darkness ended and the early first flickered into life. It’s much bigger than the Hubble telescope, which has been orbiting Earth since 1990 and is tuned to detect light that Hubble cannot – in the infrared. This light is invisible to the human eye, but it’s the type of light in which the glow from the most distant objects in the Universe will show up.
A FEAT OF SPACE ENGINEERING FROM CANADA, USA, AND EUROPE
A joint project from the Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, and NASA over 200 scientists from around the world will study the cosmos and bring new revelations about the formation and existence of our universe.
The CSA is contributing two important elements to the Webb Telescope:
- the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS), which will allow the telescope to point at and focus on objects of interest
- the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), a scientific instrument that will help study many astronomical objects, from exoplanets to distant galaxies
The Webb telescope has been referred to as the “Origami” or “Transformer” telescope. It’s so large that to launch it into space, the telescope must be folded up inside the rocket and reassembled at its destination.
The live coverage of the launch is available on NASA TV.