For many years, NASA has been doing incredible things to ensure that the United States remains a key player in the study and exploration of outer space. From high-tech rovers to innovative satellites, it’s sometimes hard to believe their technology could get more advanced than it already is.
Yet that’s exactly what happened with this new telescope. What it’s capable of is fascinating… and will surely keep the U.S a leader in space exploration for years to come.
It took several years and billions of dollars, but the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has finally been completed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, and astronomers everywhere couldn’t be more excited. It has 18 hexagonal mirrors, each plated with gold. The Hubble was previously the most powerful telescope in the world, but JWST will have 100 times the observing power when it launches in October 2018.
“Upon completion, Webb will be the largest and most complex space observatory that anyone on planet Earth has ever built,” said Charlie Bolden, a NASA administrator, in a statement. “It will capture the imagination and dreams of millions who dare to look to the sky and wonder.”
The JWST will be positioned in a place beyond the reach of the Moon’s orbit, so it will have an unobstructed view with gravitational stability. It’s also different from the Hubble because it will use infrared technology to see everything from galaxies to exoplanets. The infrared views, combined with the power of the 18 gold-plated mirrors, also allow it to see through cosmic dust.
The JWST has been plagued with delays (it was originally supposed to launch in 2011), and its $1 billion budget has ballooned to $8.7 billion. Understandably, there’s a lot of pressure surrounding the launch. NASA will need months of testing to ensure that JWST makes it through. And unlike Hubble, which has completed numerous manned missions for repairs and upgrades, the John Webb Space Telescope will be too far away to be able to be serviced.
It’s taken over 20 years, but it won’t be long until we’ll see images of the cosmos that we never would’ve been able to imagine before. Hopefully the launch will go smoothly, and NASA will make history once again!