Finally, the James Webb Space Telescope is on its way to its destination

After a long series of delays and budget overruns, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was finally launched last weekend. This space telescope, the largest ever, will begin its science mission in mid-2022.

The spacecraft is now on its way to a special point in space where the play of gravity between the Earth and the sun is finely balanced. This so-called Lagrange point, called L2, is located 1.5 million kilometers behind the Earth as seen from the Sun. Here the telescope orbits the sun with the Earth.


The huge telescope was carefully folded to fit the rocket it was launched with. This week will slowly unfold. The massive mirror will be made of eighteen gilded beryllium hexagons.

Five parts covered with a thin aluminum foil made of a special polymer are also revealed. These act as a light shield. It’s supposed to block out light from the sun, Earth, and moon and thus keep the telescope cool. This is necessary to be able to take clear pictures of the space. The large distance between the JWST and the Sun will also help keep the temperature of the measuring instruments on board the JWST low.

Once the telescope is deployed, the JWST team will operate and test its science instruments. At the end of January, JWST will reach its final destination, L2, where the team will continue to calibrate the instruments for approximately five months. Then the telescope can begin its scientific mission.

Science Wish List

The James Webb Space Telescope will measure infrared light. This is different from its predecessor, HubbletelescoopWho watched visible and ultraviolet light. Webb’s huge mirror also allows him to see things that appear ten to a hundred times fainter than what Hubble could see.

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This will allow Webb to peek at stars and galaxies located 13.6 billion light-years away. For example, it will examine how the first stars and galaxies formed in hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang. The telescope will also record the formation and evolution of galaxies over time, from the early chaotic period of the universe to the relatively quiet galaxies we see today.

Curious about what Dutch astronomers want to investigate with the James Webb Space Telescope? Read it on our website preview.

JWST will also look at dark matter and the motion of distant galaxies. This may help answer the question of how fast the universe is expanding, and what it is The universe in the far future awaits.

Another scientific goal of JWST is to understand how stars and planets form so that we can compare our solar system with countless others in the universe. Finally, JWST will focus on outer planetsIt revolves around stars other than the sun. It will examine their atmosphere and look for signs of extraterrestrial life.

If all goes well, the space telescope will take at least five and a half years of measurements.

Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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