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What is the News?
NASA is set to launch the James Webb Telescope on 24th December 2021.
What is the James Webb Telescope?
James Webb Telescope is an international collaboration between NASA, European Space Agency(ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency.
The telescope will complement and is considered the successor of the Hubble Space Telescope.
The telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 ECA rocket.
Once in space, the telescope will be situated near the second Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system, which is around 1,500,000 km from Earth and directly opposite the Sun.
What is the purpose of the James Webb Telescope?
The telescope will be able to look back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies of our early universe.
The telescope will allow us to a) look deeper into our solar system than ever before, b) give us a clearer view of exoplanets in the solar system, c) help us understand how the universe itself was formed and d) help to get a detailed atmospheric characterisation of potentially habitable exoplanets.
|Read more: James Webb Telescope in the centre of LGBT debate|
How will the telescope work in the sky?
The telescope works in the infrared spectrum, collecting infrared light from the object it is focused on.
But why infrared? Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with longer wavelengths than visible light. This particular trait of the telescope would help it look farther back in time more effectively than other telescopes. It will also help scientists look into the atmosphere of stars, which is usually shrouded with dust and gas during formation.
Note: Infrared light can easily penetrate through such cosmic dust and gas.
What are the challenges with the James Webb Telescope?
One of the biggest challenges is that once the telescope is deployed, it will be almost impossible to make any physical repairs on it.
In contrast, the Hubble Space Telescope could be repaired as it orbits Earth at an altitude of 570 km above it. On the other hand, the Webb will be roughly 1.5 million kilometres away.
Source: This post is based on the article “How Webb will take us to the universe’s first galaxies” published in Livemint on 18th Dec 2021.