The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – NASA – ESA – CSA ASC Project

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) - NASA - ESA - CSA Project
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – NASA – ESA – CSA Project 

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a space telescope designed by NASA and funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The telescope is named after NASA Administrator James E. Webb, who served from 1961 to 1968 and was instrumental in the Apollo program. It is expected to be NASA’s flagship project in astrophysics, succeeding the Hubble Space Telescope. JWST was launched on Ariane flight VA256 on December 25, 2021. It is intended to outperform Hubble in terms of infrared resolution and sensitivity, allowing for a wide range of investigations in astronomy and cosmology, including observations of some of the most distant events and objects in the Universe, such as the formation of the first galaxies, and detailed atmospheric characterization of potentially habitable exoplanets.

The Optical Telescope Element, the primary mirror of JWST, is made up of 18 hexagonal mirror segments composed of gold-plated beryllium that combine to form a 6.5 m (21 ft)-diameter mirror — far bigger than Hubble’s 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in) mirror. Unlike Hubble, which observes in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared (0.1–1.0 m) spectra, JWST will see in the long-wavelength visible light (red) to mid-infrared (0.6–28.3 m). This will let it to observe high-redshift objects that are too ancient and too far away for Hubble to view. To see infrared without interference, the telescope will be installed in orbit at the Sun–Earth L2 Lagrange point, around 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 mi) from Earth (0.01 au — 3.9 times the typical distance to the Moon). A big sunshield constructed of silicon- and aluminum-coated Kapton will protect you from the sun.

Webb is overseen by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Maryland, and it is operated by the Space Telescope Science Institute. Northrop Grumman was the primary contractor.

Development began in 1996 with a launch slated for 2007 with a US$500 million expenditure.

There were numerous delays and cost overruns, including a major redesign in 2005, a ripped sunshield during a practice deployment, an independent review board recommendation, the COVID-19 pandemic, issues with the Ariane 5 rocket and the telescope itself, and communications issues between the telescope and the launch vehicle.

Concerns among the scientists and engineers associated with the telescope’s launch and deployment have been extensively documented. 

After construction was finished in late 2016, an extensive testing phase commenced. JWST was launched by an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America, at 12:20 UTC on December 25, 2021, and was released from the upper stage 27 minutes later. The telescope has been confirmed to be receiving power and is on its way to its intended location as of December 2021. 

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