The Christmas morning of 2021 marks a new chapter in our cosmic history as the day when James Webb Telescope took off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on a fresh spatial quest. Webb is replacing his famous ancestor – Hubble Space Telescope.
“What an amazing Christmas present”, said NASA science mission chief Thomas Zurbuchen, while NASA shared on Twitter “We have LIFTOFF of the @NASAWebb Space Telescope! […] At 7:20am ET (12:20 UTC), the beginning of a new, exciting decade of science climbed to the sky. Webb’s mission to #UnfoldTheUniverse will change our understanding of space as we know it.”
The telescope was baptized after NASA’s administrator during the 1960s. Webb is an 8.8 billion euro marvel of science that will travel 1.6 million kilometers (four times beyond the moon) to reach its destination. His infrared eyes will start scanning the space five months from now, after first unfolding its enormous mirrors and sun-shield.
Webb will investigate atmospheres of exoplanets, searching for potentially habitable places, and maybe signs of life outside our planet.
The telescope is fitted with the biggest mirror NASA ever built – 18 hexagonal gold-coated segments extending on 6.5 meters (21 feet and 4 inches). Webb will be able to collect more light from the objects it observes, offering a more detailed perspective.
Webb`s large mirror created quite a challenge for NASA, because it was too big to fit inside Ariane 5 rocket. The engineers had to go creative and design the mirror as moving parts that can fold origami-style.
“This is a great day for planet Earth. […] Thanks to the team. You all have just been incredible. Over three decades, you produced this telescope that is now going to take us back to the very beginnings of the universe. We are going to discover incredible things that we never imagined”, said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
Webb telescope is like a time machine that will offer “a better understanding of our universe and our place in it: who we are, what we are, the search that’s eternal. […] We are going to discover incredible things that we never imagined”, stated Nelson.