WATCH: NASA to Launch New Telescope Expanding Ability to See Into our Universe in 2021
By NASA.gov // January 2, 2021
the James Webb Space Telescope to fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe
ABOVE VIDEO: Sending the first Artemis mission to the Moon in preparation for human missions, landing a new rover on Mars, and launching the James Webb Space Telescope into space, expanding our ability to see deep into the universe, are just a few of the things NASA has planned for 2021.
(NASA.gov) – Sending the first Artemis mission to the Moon in preparation for human missions, landing a new rover on Mars, and launching the James Webb Space Telescope into space, expanding our ability to see deep into the universe, are just a few of the things NASA has planned for 2021.
The James Webb Space Telescope, or Webb, is an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity.
The longer wavelengths enable Webb to look much closer to the beginning of time and to hunt for the unobserved formation of the first galaxies, as well as to look inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today.
The Webb telescope will be the largest, most powerful and complex space telescope ever built and launched into space.
The Webb telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.
It will fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe.
The Webb telescope was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in September 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.
Webb is an international collaboration between NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is managing the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate Webb after launch.
Several innovative technologies have been developed for Webb. These include a primary mirror made of 18 separate segments that unfold and adjust to shape after launch.
The mirrors are made of ultra-lightweight beryllium. Webb’s biggest feature is a tennis court sized five-layer sunshield that attenuates heat from the Sun more than a million times.
The telescope’s four instruments – cameras and spectrometers – have detectors that are able to record extremely faint signals. One instrument (NIRSpec) has programmable microshutters, which enable observation up to 100 objects simultaneously.
Webb also has a cryocooler for cooling the mid-infrared detectors of another instrument (MIRI) to a very cold 7 kelvins (minus 447 Fahrenheit) so they can work.
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