The 20 long years spent by more than 1,000 people from 17 different countries developing the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will yield the desired result starting less than two years from now as the most powerful space telescope in the world enters the final leg of predeployment.
NASA is yet to confirm the long-anticipated James Webb Space Telescope launch date, but has gone on record stating that if everything goes as per plan, it will happen within two years (presumably in October 2018).
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden hosted a news conference last week to announce that the construction of the JWST is finally over. “Today, we’re celebrating the fact that our telescope is finished, and we’re about to prove that it works,” said John Mather, an astrophysicist and senior project scientist for the telescope, reports Space.com
“We’ve done two decades of innovation and hard work, and this is the result — we’re opening up a whole new territory of astronomy.”
As you know, JWST is the successor to the iconic Hubble Space Telescope that has served humanity for the past 26 years (and counting), helping unravel one secret after another concerning many previously unknown aspects of the Universe.
JWST will have approximately half the mass of Hubble, but it will carry a much larger primary mirror measuring 6.5-meter (21 feet 4 inch) in diameter compared to the 2.4-meter diameter of the Hubble. That along with other powerful hardware packed under the hood will ensure that JWST can spot even a bumblebee from 300,000 km away — roughly the same distance separating the Earth and the Moon.
In addition, it has been designed to collect infrared light which the Hubble couldn’t. This feature will help JWST to pierce through the obscuring cosmic dust to spot the Universe’s first galaxies, as well as new planetary systems still in their infancy.
It will also allow astronomers analyze the atmospheric composition of distant exoplanets even when they are transiting in front of their parent stars which, in turn, could boost the search for alien life in the distance corners of the cosmos.