5 things to look forward to now that JWST is fully deployed


Design by a NASA artist of the fully deployed James Webb Space Telescope.
Illustration: NASA host Adriana Manrique Gutierrez / Document / NASA

The James Webb Space Telescope has finished taking place its huge primary mirror, ending a series of major deployments that took place over a period of two weeks.

“Today, NASA has taken a new step in engineering for decades. While the trip isn’t over, I’m joining Team Webb to breathe a little easier and imagine future breakthroughs that should inspire the world, ”NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement on Saturday.

The massive $ 10 billion telescope was launched on Christmas Day. Since the full-size mirror was too large to fit inside its Ariane 5 launch rocket, scientists designed it in a way that allowed its components to bend like rocket origami. Once he reached space, he began the precarious Transformer-type deployment process. Webb’s main mirror will collect light from the most remote depths of the universe. In about two more weeks, the telescope will reach its final destination in deep space at Lagrange Point 2 – a gravitationally stable point a million kilometers from Earth.

Engineering teams from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Mission Operations Center at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore monitor progress as the observatory’s second primary mirror wing falls into place on January 8, 2022 .
Photo: Bill Ingalls / Handout / NASA

But now that JWST has taken its final form, what can we expect from the largest and most powerful space telescope ever deployed?

Many astronomers who plan to take advantage of JWST’s superior optics describe it as a “time machine”; this will help experts study every phase of cosmic history since the universe began shortly after the Big Bang, capture images of the first galaxies to form after this event, and shed light on some answers about how stars are born and evolve.

JWST will be able to search for signs of life-bearing planets in the cosmos. One way to do this is to examine what the atmospheres of exoplanets are made of using a technique called spectroscopy; The components on board Webb will allow astronomers to do just that, by detecting light passing through an exoplanet’s atmosphere and then scattering it in a rainbow known as the spectrum.

A near-infrared photo of the Lagoon Nebula taken by the Hubble Space Telescope which NASA says is a good look at what the James Webb Space Telescope, optimized for infrared light, will be able to show us.
Photo: Space Telescope Science Institute / NASA, ESA and STScI

The telescope will begin collecting data and its first images later in 2022. These are expected to be released in June or July, forever changing the way we see and understand the universe. Additionally, Webb captures infrared light, detecting light that is invisible to us and revealing otherwise hidden regions of space, including distant corners of our universe.

Initially, the JWST was to be operational for five to ten years. But according to NASA, the telescope will likely have enough propellant to support scientific operations even longer to withstand more than ten years of exploration thanks to a super precise launch. NASA Mission Systems Engineer Mike Menzel Friday share that thanks to the telescope’s precision launch and deployment, Webb should have enough thruster, roughly speaking, to operate “for about 20 years.” After that JWST will likely run out of fuel and slowly deviate from course.

The JWST looks bonkers, with a towering primary mirror that spans 21 feet wide and is made up of 18 smaller hexagonal mirrors. They are made from gold coated beryllium, optimized to reflect infrared light. From knitting to baking, the telescope’s iconic look has already lent itself to all kinds of crafts and creations. You can check out Webb’s inspired crafts on Instagram or Flickr.


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