Science & Technology

James Webb Space Telescope: The most advanced telescope yet

Scientists had to invent 10 new technologies for making this a reality

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 24 January 2022

On 25th December 2021, NASA launched the most advanced telescope that has ever been created — a telescope that can potentially change our understanding of the universe. It has been named the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

After nearly a month into the launch, NASA reported that the telescope has finally completed the deployment of its primary and secondary mirrors.

What is it that makes this telescope the most advanced one yet? JWST is a reflecting telescope that uses a combination of curved mirrors that reflect light and form an image.

It was first conceived in 1989, though, the technological requirement and the budget required for making the telescope was unthinkable. After 33 years and with a budget of 10 billion dollars, the telescope finally became a reality.

Scientists had to invent 10 new technologies for making this a reality, including the thin-plated honeycomb structure. The structure is actually a giant mirror of diameter 6.5 metres. With this massive mirror, the telescope will have the ability to collect and reflect more light to see objects farther away in the universe.

According to scientists, JWST can peer back up to 13.6 billion lightyears to capture the faint, red-shifted light from the very beginning of the universe.

JWST is considered a successor to NASA’s Hubble telescope that has been orbiting the planet for more than 30 years. And if Hubble was about the size of a school bus, JWST is more like the size of a tennis court. And unlike the Hubble telescope, the JWST can sense light at the infrared part of the spectrum.

The telescope is using this spectrum to further increase its reach and read light from the stars that have been stretched in space to the infrared spectrum. The James Webb Space Telescope is now travelling to the second Lagrange point (L2), which is 1.5 million away from Earth. Once into orbit, the telescope will go through another five months of commissioning before it begins observing the universe in infrared.

The scientific community hopes that Webb will start a new age of astronomy and show humanity things it has never seen before.

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