The largest-ever orbiting telescope launched

The James Webb Space Telescope launched from the European cosmodrome in French Guiana (South America) on December 25 at 07:20 am EST (Moscow time is 8 hours higher, that is, Moscow at that moment was 15:20 ). The European launch vehicle Ariane 5 was used. 17 countries participated in the creation of the observatory, but ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency became key participants in addition to NASA.

The launch was successful, now the spacecraft is maneuvering to enter a given orbit at a distance of about 1.5 million km from Earth at the so-called Lagrange point. Orbit corrections will be made by the observatory itself, trying not to turn the sensitive elements towards the Sun. Overheating them will lead to the failure of the mission at the very beginning. The spacecraft will arrive at the target in about a month. There the complex procedure of deploying the telescope will take place. The first scientific research will begin in the summer of 2022. But already on December 26, the gimbal antenna was assembled, which includes a dish antenna with a high data rate. It will be used to send at least 28.6 GB of scientific data twice a day.

Today “James Webb” – the largest and most complex observatory in the world. It has four state-of-the-art scientific instruments with high-sensitivity infrared detectors of unprecedented resolution, allowing it to capture images with greater clarity than ever before. The infrared range is interesting in that it allows you to see through clouds of cosmic dust, limiting the view in the optical and higher frequency ranges. The new scientific instrument will be the heir to the legendary Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.

The main tasks of the infrared observatory will be the study of the first galaxies in the early Universe, the solar system, and exoplanets. Revolutionary technologies used to create the telescope will allow the study of objects from the solar system to the most distant observed galaxies. And the unique characteristics of the telescope allow us to hope for many new unexpected discoveries that will allow us to better understand the Universe and our place in it.

Based on materials from NASA.

Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by

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