Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be the premier observatory of the next decade serving thousands of astronomers around the world. And after several delays, it seems that he will finally depart tomorrow, December 25 aboard an Airane 5 rocket from the European spaceport of French Guiana. It will be the largest and most powerful telescope ever launched into space, designed to answer the most relevant questions about the Universe and to make the most cutting-edge discoveries in all fields of astronomy. The expected launch can be followed through the NASA channel in Spanish, in this link:
Formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope,” it was renamed in honor of a former NASA administrator, James Webb, and is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). It began to be designed more than 20 years ago and now ready, its destination will be the Lagrange2 point, located about 1,500 kilometers from Earth. It is one of the five points at which the gravity of the Sun and our planet are balanced. Although it will take a month to arrive (remember that the trip is all “uphill” against Earth’s gravity), halfway there, when there are approximately 15 days left for the destination, it should already begin to deploy. The first thing will be to open its panel of photoelectric cells to have enough energy and the antenna of communications with the Earth. After two days the sequence of opening and tensioning of the parasol will begin, which will take a whole week, and from the tenth day the optical system will begin to expand, two side wings with 18 individual gold mirrors (each one is a beryllium hexagon covered with a very thin layer of that metal, the best reflector for infrared radiation).
Then, its 6.5-meter primary mirror will study every phase of the history of our Universe, from the first flashes of light after the Big Bang to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, through the evolution of our own Solar System; to finally reveal new and unexpected discoveries and help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it. After several delays in its launch and more than 10,000 million dollars of investment, the James Webb is expected to operate for a minimum of five years – although it is planned for ten – although Hubble’s experience tells us that it is very likely to exceed the useful life that has been foreseen.