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Major NASA update

| Wednesday, November 10, 2021

You know what time it is: It’s time for me to dedicate my whole Inside Column to science! This is one of my favorite things to write about — space exploration. And boy, do I have a phenomenal update for you. Today I will be talking about the James Webb Space Telescope NASA will be launching Dec. 18. That’s only 39 days away! Now, let’s get serious and see what this hunk of metal is going to do up in space.

Webb telescope is the largest and newest premier space science observatory and is the predecessor of the Hubble telescope launched in April 1990. This telescope will fundamentally change the way we understand the universe. In order to help scientists uncover secrets from the distant universe, it will observe all the cosmos, from planets to stars to nebulae to galaxies and beyond. In order to reach its destination where it can orbit the sun in line with Earth, Webb will have a million-mile journey.   

The main job of the telescope is to study every phase of cosmic history. Within our solar system, we are able to observe most distant galaxies in the early universe. By using Webb’s infrared telescope, it will explore a wide range of science to help us understand the origins of the universe and our place in it. What is so amazing about this telescope is that it will look upon the adolescent years of the universe to gaze upon the very first stars that were created over 13.5 billion years ago. It does this by using infrared and mid-infrared wavelengths with incredible resolution. Now, that is mind-blowing — that we can even create something to be able to look at the very first stars of our universe. 

The Webb telescope will also be used to study the nearby universe. According to NASA, “Scientists will use Webb to study planets and other bodies in our solar system to determine their origin and evolution and compare them with exoplanets, planets that orbit other stars.” When Webb is launched in December, it is tasked with many jobs to give scientists more information about the history of our universe.

Growing up, I was always fascinated by the photos that these telescopes captured. Looking at them was what initially intrigued me about the relationship between space exploration and photography. Onboard the Webb telescope there will be state-of-the-art scientific instruments that were engineered to produce the highest quality imagery and data. There will be four cameras onboard that will capture images of planets, galaxies, stars, nebulas, etcetera. If you are familiar with the famous images captured by the Hubble telescope you will be able to get an idea of what kinds of photos the Webb telescope will be taking.

It will take around six months for the Webb telescope to first gather scientific observation after launching. Although that seems like a long commute to its destination, I would highly recommend you stick with the telescopes’ updates. It is making history and will influence our understanding of the beginning of the universe. The images that will be captured from this telescope will be truly remarkable. The information and data scientist will receive from Webb will be well worth the wait.

As always, I recommend that you sign up for the weekly or monthly newsletter NASA provides to subscribers. Also, give the Webb telescope Instagram page a follow to always be updated with pre and post-launch information. Visit the official James Webb Telescope site to learn more — you won’t regret it!

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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