If you thought that the Hubble Telescope is the end all and be all of advanced telescopes for outer space, think again. The James Webb Space Telescope or the Next Generation space telescope is now here; the flagship class space observatory that is now complete after about twenty years in the making!
The result of two decades of labour, the James Webb Space Telescope, with its 18 mirrors will be able to see farther into space and tell us more about the great unknown than anything else before this. This modern marvel was unveiled at NASA’s Goddard Space Center in Maryland on 2 November and its makers will now prove that it works.
It is as big as a tennis court, and the mirrors are coated with gold. It will be 15 lakh miles from earth (that is 4 times the distance of the moon). It is be so powerful that it can spot a penny at 24 miles...that’s about 7 times more powerful than the Hubble!
The 18 hexagonal segment mirrors are made from special materials and coated in gold; there is also a sunshade to protect the telescope from the heat of the sun.
The telescope will study the earliest detectable light in the universe; will allow scientists to study far back into the early universe to a time after the big bang.
Scientists will not know more about our own solar system, it may be possible to see galaxies collide with the help of this next generation telescope. It will be possible to see exoplanets (which orbit stars outside our solar system), their atmosphere and whether they have water.
The possibility of being able to see this happen seemed to belong to the realm of science fiction but NASA says this is going to be possible now.
The actual launch of the telescope is slated for October 2018 from French Guiana on board an Ariane 5 rocket, however the possibility of seeing images such as these – outside the imaginings of an artist – are fascinating!
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