James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) from NASA is one of the most anticipated and talked about piece of space hardware ever designed. Its potential will enable us better understand the formation of the universe and even the supposedly discovered planet 9 that astronomers are predicting to lie some 900 Earth-Sun distances.
When completed, James Webb Space Telescope will be the most powerful space telescope as it takes over the Hubble Space Telescope that is used to study the history of the universe since light after the big bang, how the solar system formed and determining if there are planets that can support life like earth.
According to John Durning, NASA’s JWST deputy project manager, the main aim of the telescope is to enable us to see what we couldn’t including the so-called ‘Dark Ages of the universe.’ According to Stefanie Milam, JWST deputy project scientist, JWST would be able to detect compounds the likes of carbon dioxide in Planet 9’s tenuous icy atmosphere. Also over its lifetime, JWST will also make some great unobtainable images of Mars and other familiar objects in our solar system.
JWST’s mirror is larger than Hubble’s diameter by 13 feet and has been assembled from 18 separate ‘panes’ of beryllium. The telescope is specialized in infrared with some ability to observe in the visible spectrum. It’s 6.5-meter primary mirror, four instruments, sunshade will offer better sensitivity, wavelength, spectral resolution than many planetary or orbiter mission.
Nasa’s engineers are finalizing their efforts on JWST’s primary mirror surface, having spent years in a state of pre-production. The telescope is currently taking an important step towards its final form. Completion is expected in 2018 with liftoff being on European soil atop Ariane rocket.
Scientists are hoping that some six months after the launch in October 2018, JWST will provide near and mid-infrared observations. Its primary observing goal will be monitoring familiar planets and moons for changes in their atmosphere and surface geology. The most anticipated pictures will be those showing the first stars and galaxies as they form. JWSP is expected to take us 13.5 billion years back.
The main challenge with the telescope is that it will have to be at least a million miles from the earth. This means that no astronauts will be in a position to fix it should there be any issue. That makes it a huge gamble for NASA considering it has invested $US8.8 billion.
The telescope is expected to premiere on the Discovery Channel on June 26
Featured Image Credit:ESA