NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Safely Reaches Space After Christmas Day Launch

by Kati Michelle

The James Webb Space Telescope is the culmination of decades of research and science between three leading space authorities. That would be NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. The Webb project is the largest, most expensive, and most powerful telescope that NASA has ever created. Its abilities extend far beyond what the Hubble telescope was ever capable of.

After a successful launch earlier today from French Guiana, the instrument safely made its way into space on Christmas. It even got its own Twitter account which documented the launch and where you can stay up to date with the latest news regarding its findings.

The plan is for the telescope to spend 5-10 years in space and study the formation of the earliest galaxies in the universe. This means looking at how those earlier galaxies compare to today’s and trying to figure out how our solar system was actually developed. It might even catch life on other planets if we’re lucky.

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A Brief History of the NASA Project

Scientists first got to work on the project in 1996. At this time, they called it the Next Generation Space Telescope. Eventually, though, NASA decided to rename the project in 2002. They chose to honor James Webb who headed the organization in the ’60s. Webb is also credited with helping launch an Apollo program that landed on the moon.

The project encountered several delays and setbacks over the years. A redesign in the early 2000s, for example, cost them nearly $10 billion. And although the construction of the telescope concluded in 2016, it took another handful of years to make sure the launch would be successful.

How Long Will the Space Journey Take?

The James Webb Space Telescope successfully launched into space today, but that doesn’t mean its journey is over yet. Scientists estimate that the telescope will take almost a full month to reach its final destination. This resting spot involves an orbit nearly 1 million miles away from the Earth.

Other things the project had to consider include how the telescope can communicate with Earth, where it can draw its power from, and how it can regulate its temperature. This is why NASA equipped the telescope with an antenna, solar panels, and a sunshield.

Eventually, mirrors will reveal themselves to reflect and detect infrared light that will hopefully unlock the secrets to the universe.

How’s that for a Christmas miracle?