Have you ever looked at the sky through a telescope? The stars appear much closer. Maybe you were able to see details of the moon. But there is so much beyond the stars and planets that we cannot see! Scientists have been studying space for years. On December 25, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope, sometimes called The Webb, was launched to observe the most distant objects in the universe.
The Webb replaced the Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990. The Webb is NASA’s largest and most powerful telescope. It will build on the discoveries made by the Hubble. The telescope is named after James E. Webb, who was a director at NASA and created the Apollo program which was one of the missions that put astronauts on the moon. Two decades were spent building and testing the telescope for any potential problems. The project cost ten billion dollars!
The James Webb Space Telescope is an infrared observatory orbiting the Sun about a million miles from Earth. This location gives it a wide view of the cosmos. The Webb has a main mirror that is approximately 6.5 meters wide. That is seven times larger than the Hubble! It is made of 18 mirror segments that fold together to fit inside a rocket. After the rocket launched, the segments were released into space. This is the first time a NASA-led mission has been able to place an observatory in space. The James Webb Space Telescope will study the history of our galaxy and the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth. It will uncover mysteries about the universe.
What Do You Think? Why do you think it is important to find planets that can support living creatures?
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Photo Credit: NASA