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James Webb Space Telescope | NASA Broadcast | Space | Discovery | Science | NASA

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The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large, space-based observatory set to be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. Named after James E. Webb, who served as the second administrator of NASA from 1961 to 1968 and played a key role in the Apollo program that landed the first humans on the Moon, the JWST is designed to be one of the most powerful telescopes ever built.

Launch and Location: The JWST was launched on December 18, 2021, atop an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. It is positioned at the second Lagrange point (L2), which is about 1.5 million kilometers (approximately 930,000 miles) from Earth. This location provides a stable environment and allows the telescope to observe the universe in the infrared spectrum.

Primary Objectives: The main scientific goals of the JWST include studying the formation of the first galaxies, the evolution of galaxies, the formation of stars and planetary systems, and the atmospheres of exoplanets.

Infrared Capability: The JWST is specifically designed to observe in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Infrared observations are crucial for studying objects that are faint or obscured by dust, as well as for observing the earliest galaxies whose light has been stretched to longer, redshifted wavelengths.

Optical Components: The telescope has a large, segmented primary mirror with a diameter of 6.5 meters (21.3 feet). It is equipped with a suite of scientific instruments, including cameras and spectrographs, to capture and analyze infrared light.

Sunshield: To protect the sensitive instruments from the Sun’s heat and light, the JWST features a sunshield that is about the size of a tennis court. The sunshield consists of five layers of a specialized material that helps maintain the telescope’s temperature at extremely low levels.

International Collaboration: The James Webb Space Telescope is a collaborative project involving NASA (United States), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

The JWST is expected to revolutionize our understanding of the universe and provide valuable insights into various astrophysical phenomena. It is anticipated to operate for at least a decade, contributing to a wide range of scientific discoveries.

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