The James Webb Space Telescope launches on a historic mission
By: April Carson
The $10 billion James Webb telescope has departed for its mission to reveal the first stars to shine in space.
An Ariane rocket from the Kourou space center in French Guiana launched the observatory into space.
It was launched near the end of March, when the sun-facing side of Mars opposite to the Earth shone at its brightest as seen from northern latitudes. It took just over half an hour for it to reach space, and a signal confirming success was detected by a ground antenna in Kenya's Malindi.
Webb is the next-generation successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, named for Edward George Weidenbener, one of the moon landings' masterminds.
The new space station has a larger mirror than the old one, with an eye-catching blue interior. Engineers collaborated to build the new facility 100 times more powerful, however.
"James Webb begins a journey back to the origin of the Universe as he lifts off from a tropical rainforest to the brink of time itself," said Rob Navias, an American space agency (Nasa) TV commentator, when the spacecraft departed from Earth.
The launch of the shuttle was anticipated but also anxiety-provoking. Thousands of individuals around the world have contributed to the project over the past 30 years, and while the Ariane is a very dependable vehicle, there are no certainties when it comes to rockets.
Webb's debut is only the beginning of a lengthy process that will take place over the next six months.
The spacecraft will be sent on a journey to a viewing station 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth.
At the time of reaching this destination, Webb will need to unfold itself from its folded state, similar to a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.
"We're not going to make this easy," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson admitted. "We have to accept that there are many more things that need to work flawlessly, and they must all work at once. But we know that in return comes great risk. And it's because of this that we take the chance."
The new facility's most important feature is its 6.5m-wide golden mirror, which is almost three times larger than Hubble's principal reflector.
The enlarged optics, together with four super-sensitive technologies, should allow astronomers to explore further into space - and backward in time - than they ever have before.
The epoch of the pioneering stars, which ended the darkness predicted to have encompassed the cosmos shortly after the Big Bang more than 13.5 billion years ago, will be a top priority.
The heat generated by these nuclear reactions would have created the first heavy atoms necessary for life - carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and Sulphur. Webb's major goal will be to investigate the atmospheres of distant planets. This will assist scientists in determining whether these planets are habitable.
"We'll be entering a whole new regime of astrophysics, a whole new frontier; and that is why so many of us are excited about the James Webb Space Telescope," said Heidi Hammel, a planetary astronomer and an interdisciplinary scientist on the mission.
It takes around two weeks to unwrap a Webb. After the large mirror has been unfurled, it must be focused. The curvature of these 18 segments is adjusted by little motors on the back of the reflector.
"We have to get it as cold as possible, and then the main thing is that everything has to be extremely chilly," said Mark McCaughrean, a senior science adviser with the European Space Agency.
This telescope will be at a temperature of minus 233 degrees Celsius. It will then stop glowing in the infrared wavelengths beyond the visible range where we want this telescope to operate. Simply put, the James Webb Space Telescope won't be able to capture such pictures until 2021. In fact, it will only be able to take images of celestial bodies that are 100 million light-years away and further."
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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