NASA has completed construction of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – the biggest and most powerful space telescope ever that is expected to replace Hubble as a major tool for ripping the cover from mysteries of our universe.
“Today, we’re celebrating the fact that our telescope is finished, and we’re about to prove that it works,” John Mather, NASA’s astrophysicist and senior scientist for the JWST said on Wednesday at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, adding that the event opens up “whole new territory of astronomy.”
The construction of the telescope has spanned for over two decades. The JWST was supposed to be sent in space in 2014, but due to technical problems and budget cuts the project stumbled several times and was almost canceled in 2012.
However, later the JWST was renewed and now is complete with a launch date set for 2018.
Through years in making the price tag for the JWST has surged from initial $5 billion to $8.7 billion, making the telescope more than three times more expensive than the Hubble, which costs $2.5 billion.
Some call the JWST “Super Hubble,” because the new telescope is three times bigger than its predecessor and 100 times more powerful.
It has 18 large gold mirrors that have an area of 270 square feet, compared to Hubble’s 48 square feet.
“This beautiful, gold telescope is seven times the collecting area of the Hubble telescope,” Mather said, explaining that the JWST is much more sensitive to infrared light than the Hubble, meaning it will have a greater viewing capacity.
The JWST, which was dubbed a “time machine,” will be able to scrutinize the universe’s first galaxies formed over 13.5 billion years ago and explore the newly emerging stars and planets.
Currently, the JWST is going through a series of tests at Goddard hangar, which include noise and shake tests. Later, it will be transported to California for final testing.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden explained that the testing process should be thorough as the JWST is not supposed to be repaired by humans in space.
According to NASA prospects, the JWST will be launched atop Ariane 5 rocket in October 2018. After six months of space testing, it will get down to its work, making observations for five next years. …