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$10 billion James Webb Telescope Launched on Historic Space Mission

2 Mins read

James Webb, the world’s most powerful space telescope, was on Christmas day launched into orbit.

The telescope, which was named after the architect of one of the Apollo Moon landings, was launched to an outpost 1.5 million kilometres from Earth.

The James Webb Space Telescope left Earth enclosed in its Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou Space Centre in French Guiana. The powerful observatory left Earth on a mission to view the first stars to light up the Universe.

Webb was built by a group of engineers working with the US, European and Canadian space agencies. The engineers built the new observatory to be 100 times more powerful than the Hubble, which is earlier technology of same class.

It is expected that the space telescope will spend about a month in orbit before reaching its remote destination.

In the course of travelling to this location, Webb will have to unpack itself from the folded configuration it adopted at launch, into the actual structure it was designed to take.

Source: NBC news

Webb is set to beam back images that will help scientists understand more about the origins of the universe and earth-like planets beyond our solar system.

One of the main scope of the telescope is to take a look at the pioneer stars that ended the darkness which was theorised to have gripped the cosmos shortly after the event of the Big Bang – some 13.5 billion years into the past.

Read also: Fact check: Can Satellites see through walls?

The telescope is also programmed to gaze into distant planets to determine whether there are worlds that are habitable for humans.

We’re going to be entering a whole new regime of astrophysics, a new frontier; and that is what gets so many of us excited about the James Webb Space Telescope,” said Heidi Hammel, a planetary astronomer and an interdisciplinary scientist on the mission.

Mark Mark McCaughrean, senior science adviser with the European Space Agency, explained that the process of unfurling the telescope will take about two weeks. After which, Webb’s big mirror will be focused.

McCaughrean added that Webb “has to get very cold.”

This telescope actually will be at -233°C. Only then will it stop glowing at the infrared wavelengths beyond the visible where we want this telescope to work. And only then will it be able to take the sensitive pictures of the distant Universe where the first galaxies were born, and of planets going around other stars. So there’s a long way to go.

James Webb is fitted with a 6.5m mirror, which is almost three times the size of the reflectors on the Hubble telescope – which was launched in 1990. Webb also weighs 6,200kg, compared to Hubble’s 12,200kg.

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When I'm not reading about tech, I'm writing about it, or thinking about the next weird food combinations to try. I do all these with my headphones plugged in, and a sticky note on my computer with the words: "The galaxy needs saving, Star Lord."
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