NASA's James Webb Space Telescope(JSWT) is an infrared space observatory that launched on Dec 25, 2021, from ESA's launch site at Kourou in French Guiana, at 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT; 9:20 a.m. local time in Kourou), on board an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket.
The $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope— NASA's largest and most powerful space science telescope — will probe the cosmos to uncover the history of the universe from the Big Bang to alien planet formation and beyond. It is one of NASA's Great Observatories, huge space instruments that include the likes of the Hubble Space Telescope to peer deep into the cosmos.
THE WORKING OF THE JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE
It will take about 30 days for the James Webb Space Telescope to travel nearly a million miles (1.5 million kilometers) to its permanent home: a Lagrange point — a gravitationally stable location in space. The James Webb Space Telescopewill orbit the sun at the second Lagrange point (L2). L2 is a spot in space near Earth that lies opposite from the sun; this orbit will allow the telescope to stay in line with Earth as it orbits the sun. It has been a popular spot for several other space telescopes, including the Herschel Space Telescope and the Planck Space Observatory.
According to NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope will focus on four main areas: first light in the universe, assembly of galaxies in the early universe, birth of stars and protoplanetary systems, and planets (including the origins of life.)
Once it has launched, it will undergo a series of science and calibration tests including sunshield deployment, telescope deployment, instrument turn-on and telescope alignment. According to the Space Telescope Science Institute, the best images from JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE will start to appear about six months after launch. Though we may possibly be treated to some "first light" images slightly earlier.
The powerful James Webb Space Telescope is also expected to take amazing photos of celestial objects like its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope. Luckily for astronomers, the Hubble Space Telescope remains in good health and it's probable that the two telescopes will work together for James Webb Space Telescope's first years. James Webb Space Telescope will also look at exoplanets that the Kepler Space Telescope found, or follow up on real-time observations from ground space telescopes.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the product of an impressive international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency. According to NASA, the JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE involved over 300 universities, organizations and companies across 29 U.S. states and 14 countries. The nominal duration for the James Webb Space Telescopeis five years but the goal is 10 years According to ESA.
THE MISSIONS OF JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE
It will study the early stages of the universe after the Big Bang started the universe as we know it today. In the first stages after the Big Bang, the universe was a sea of particles, and light was not visible until the universe cooled enough for these particles to begin combining. Another thing JAMES WEBB SPACE Telescope will study is what happened after the first stars formed; this era is called "the epoch of reionization" because it refers to when neutral hydrogen was reionized by radiation from these first stars.
It will also look into more and more galaxies. Looking at galaxies is a useful way to see how matter is organized on gigantic scales, which in turn gives us hints as to how the universe evolved. The spiral and elliptical galaxies we see today actually evolved from different shapes over billions of years, and one of James Webb Space Telescope's goals is to look back at the earliest galaxies to better understand that evolution. Scientists are also trying to figure out how we got the variety of galaxies that are visible today, and the current ways that galaxies form and assemble.
The Eagle Nebula's "Pillars of Creation" are some of the most famous birthplaces for stars. Stars come to be in clouds of gas, and as the stars grow, the radiation pressure they exert blows away the cocooning gas (which could be used again for other stars, if not too widely dispersed.) However, it's difficult to see inside the gas. James Webb Space Telescope's infrared eyes will be able to look at sources of heat, including stars that are being born in these cocoons.
The last decade has seen vast numbers of exoplanets discovered, including with NASA's planet-seeking Kepler Space Telescope. James Webb Space Telescope's powerful sensors will be able to peer at these planets in more depth, including (in some cases) imaging their atmospheres. Understanding the atmospheres and the formation conditions for planets could help scientists better predict if certain planets are habitable or not.
JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE VS. HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE
The James Webb Space Telescopeis referred to as the successor of the Hubble Space Telescope.
The two space telescopes have different capabilities, whilst Hubble primarily observed the cosmos in optical and ultraviolet wavelengths (with some infrared capabilities.) The James Webb Space Telescope will primarily look at the universe in infrared. Due to the expansion of the universe, light from distant objects shifts to longer wavelengths at the redder end of the spectrum — known as redshifted, according to ESA. The James Webb Space Telescope will observe this infrared light in great detail and shed light on some of the oldest stars and galaxies in the universe.
Another big difference between the James Webb Space Telescop eand the Hubble Space Telescope is that James Webb Space Telescope will orbit the sun, whilst Hubble orbits Earth. James Webb Space Telescope will be too far away to be serviced, unlike Hubble which was accessed and serviced by space shuttle missions.
THE NAMING OF THE JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE
The space telescope was previously known as the Next Generation Space Telescope and was renamed the James Webb Space Telescopein Sept. 2002. The JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE is named for former NASA chief James Webb. Webb took charge of the space agency from 1961 to 1968, retiring just a few months before NASA put the first man on the moon.
Although Webb's tenure as NASA administrator is most closely associated with the Apollo moon program, he is also considered a leader in space science. Even in a time of great political turmoil, Webb set NASA's science objectives, writing that launching a large space telescope should be a key goal of the space agency. NASA launched more than 75 space science missions under Webb's guidance. They included missions that studied the sun, stars and galaxies as well as space directly above Earth's atmosphere.