Wednesday, January 19

NASA’s new space telescope will look back in time to the beginning of the universe

At 13.20, the space telescope is launched from French Guiana in South America. Here’s the most important thing you need to know.

This is the Ariane 5 rocket in French Guiana. On board is the James Webb Telescope. After three decades of work and several budget gaps, the telescope will be launched. The goal is for us to know more about the beginning of the universe.

– There are over 300 things that can go wrong. If a little thing goes wrong, it’s not a good day.

Those are the words of Nasa chief Bill Nelson. For Saturday’s event is not a small one. Behind the launch are many years of work, several years of delays and budget cracks. But if everything goes according to plan, today a kind of time machine will be sent up.

  • Here you can follow the launch directly in NASA’s own broadcast.

What is the James Webb Space Telescope?

James Webb is a space telescope that will take over the work of its predecessor Hubble. Through the telescope, one should be able to observe and learn more about what the universe looked like up to the beginning 14 billion years ago. In addition, it can provide us with information about possible habitable planets and extraterrestrial life.

What should it do?

James Webb is expected to see light from the universe’s first stars and galaxies. The light will provide information about what the original stars looked like 13.7 billion years ago.

Hubble, the space telescope that has been in operation for the past 31 years, has been able to see 13.4 billion years back. The launch of James Webb could potentially give us more information about the “Big Bang” and the 300 million years after.

The space telescope has both infrared vision and the largest mirror ever. Its predecessor Hubble could mainly see visible and ultraviolet light. The web telescope’s infrared, ie heat-sensitive “vision”, means, among other things, that it can see into black holes. This may allow you to learn more about other galaxies.

In addition, it can give us information about possible life outside of Earth.

The main mirror consists of 18 hexagonal parts. The mirror is covered by a microscopically thin layer of gold that provides high sensitivity to infrared radiation.

Where should it be?

1.6 million kilometers from Earth. It must be in what is called the other Lagrange point. Here the telescope will be in equilibrium with the Earth and the sun. This means that it uses minimal force to stand.

Webb will always be on the Earth’s night side because it circulates around the sun at the same time as the Earth.

When is it coming?

If everything goes according to plan, the space telescope should be launched with the Ariane 5 rocket. After 26 minutes, it should be detached from the rocket.

The Webb telescope will then spend about a month arriving at its new home.

What has this cost?

Like its predecessor Hubble, both the schedule and the budget were blown up in the work of getting James Webb ready for launch.

$ 10 billion costs this – equivalent to almost 90 billion kroner. The price also includes the work over the next five years. This will be the largest and most expensive astronomical observatory ever.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is paying for the launch.

Why is it being shot up from French Guiana?

Esa and the Canadian space agency CSA are collaborating with Nasa on the space telescope. Esa has a space center in Kourou, French Guiana. The space telescope was built in the United States and then moved to the space center in South America.

French Guiana is located near the equator. Thus, rockets get a little extra push from the Earth’s rotation.

Why is it called James Webb?

The space telescope is named after the man who led Nasa for much of the 1960s, James Webb. But not without controversy.

In 2015, a columnist for the Seattle newspaper The Stranger, Dan Savage, pointed out that Webb was Secretary of State in the Truman government and under the so-called “lavender scare”. During this period, thousands of gays lost their jobs in the state when they were seen as threats to security. It writes The New York Times.

In any case, Nasa has chosen to keep the name on the telescope. According to Nasa chief Bill Nelson, they have investigated and come to the conclusion that there is no evidence to suggest that they need to change the name.

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