What is special about NASA’s new James Webb telescope?

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 What is special about NASA’s new James Webb telescope?
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Highlights

  • NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is an orbiting observatory set to launch at 07:20 am EST on Dec 24, 2021.

  • The telescope will be used to learn about cosmic events dating back to around 13.8 billion years, just after the Big Bang event.
     
  • The telescope was brought from California to French Guiana on South America's northeastern coast in October for the launch.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), an orbiting infrared observatory, is set for launch at 07:20 am EST on Dec 24, 2021. The telescope has superior capabilities and is expected to help extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope.  

Here are five amazing facts about the James Webb Space Telescope. 

How was James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) built? 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has spent over a decade building the new cosmic explorer. The space agency spent a whopping US$8.8 billion in the project. After including the operational expenses, it came to around US$9.66 billion, Reuters reported.

The telescope was built in collaboration with the space agencies of the European Union and Canada. The delays in the project had increased its cost. NASA had initially planned to launch it in 2011 but after repeated delays it is finally set for launch later this week.

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NASA’s James Webb Telescope set for launch on Dec 24.

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Capability

James Webb’s longer wavelengths would enable scientists to delve deeper into the cosmic events leading to the Big Bang or the beginning of time. It will help understand the formation of the first galaxies and observe dust clouds that form into stars and planetary systems. 

The infrared orbiting observatory is 100 times more sensitive than its predecessor the Hubble Telescope. James Webb has a ‘golden mirror’ with which astronomers hope to get a glimpse of the universe never seen before. Webb’s mirror is 21.3 feet in diameter compared to Hubble’s 7.8 feet mirror, enabling Webb to capture six times more light than Hubble. 

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How will NASA use it? 

The telescope will help learn about the cosmic events dating back to around 13.8 billion years - just after the Big Bang. It will enable the astronomers and space agencies to gain solid insights into the universe’s history and an opportunity to explore the universe and exoplanets further. 

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Infrared lighting

The Hubble telescope primarily looked at the optical and ultraviolet wavelength and collected images in ultraviolet (visible) light. In contrast, Webb will use infrared to gather information.

Webb’s improved design and capabilities would help capture images of the universe’s oldest galaxies with more details. Webb has a larger light-collecting area than Hubble, enabling it to look at greater distances.  

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Where will it be deployed?


In October, the new telescope was brought from California to French Guiana on South America's northeastern coast for the launch. Webb will work farther from the Earth than Hubble - to be deployed in an orbit around 1.6 million km from the Earth.  

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Finally, the telescope’s final deployment would help understand the universe’s origin and unravel the various cosmic events that still remained in a shroud of mystery. 

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