The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to the legendary Hubble Space Telescope which captured culturally significant photos like the Hubble Deep Field.
Numerous engineering improvements, like the 8x increase in mirror size, lead many to expect scientifically and culturally important images to be captured by the JamesWebb.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to the legendary Hubble space telescope, which captured culturally significant photos like the Hubble Deep Field.
The JWST will be the biggest and most sensitive space telescope ever build and no successor will be build in the 20s decade. The jwst is the “it” astronomy project of our time.
It is designed to look back in time, map the stars, and provide us with an understanding of how galaxies and solar systems form. In contrast to the hubble telescope, which is in an orbit around earth, the jwst will be orbit the sun in the whats called the Lagrange Point L2. Its expected to be in operation for 10 years.
To accomplish its goals, the JWST is equipped with 18 large mirrors to collect even the faintest lights. The light is so faint that all external heat- and lightwaves need to be blocked out. For this the JWST features a large sunshield, which gives it it’s iconic gestalt.
Because the light it aims to capture has traveled for such a long time and is very very weak, the mirrors have to be flat on a nanometer scale are coated in a thin sheet of polished gold, giving the telescope its iconic color.
Once the light is captured, the generated information is processed by four instruments, focussing on light in the infrared spectrum.
NASA, in cooperation with the Canadian and European Space Agencies, is building the James Webb Space Telescope. The design and development is lead by the Goddard Center.
The JWST’s construction was originally outsourced to many smaller private suppliers, which where soon bought up by the now sole supplier Northrop Grumman, one of the largest Aerospace and Weapons construction corporations in the world.
When and where
Planning began in 1996 and the first technical assessment began in 1997 and concluded in 1999. The current launch date the 31. October 2021, but it has been delayed before. the original launch date was 2007. Launch will take place in French Guinea atop an Ariana V rocket. Mission control is located in Baltimore by STScl who also operate the Hubble Space Telescope.
To understand why the JWST is build the way it is, it helps to understand its goals. The project has set out to answer some fundamental questions about the history of our universe. The universe was dark for millions of years because photons where trapped in a sort of galactic primordial stew of subatomic particles. When the universe expanded and cooled enough to allow for more complex particles to form, space was freed for photons to travel longer and longer distances. And thus, there was light. It is this -first- light that the JWST has set out to capture.
Other unanswered questions where the JWST will provide answers regard the formation of galaxies, start-systems and planets, because we don’t currently have a complete model of these processes. As a bonus, it will also be possible to point the Telescope on planets inside our own galaxy and try to detect signs of water and oxygen. Which will tell us about the planet’s habitability.