Image source: NASA

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the next step in deep field imaging (DFI), and it is surely a large step in the way of astronomical engineering. JWST is a large space telescope that can view almost 13 billion years into the past. It is designed to see closer to the origins of the universe than we have ever seen before. Scientists at NASA predict that it may be able to see the first galaxies that were formed in the universe. Its technology has been designed to operate in the infrared area of the electromagnetic spectrum

Named after the NASA administrator who crafted the Apollo missions, this telescope will sit about 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth. JWST is the next step in the Hubble space program, and it is huge. It will have a mirror that is 21 feet (6.4 meters) in diameter and a sun-shield the size of a tennis court. Obviously, JWST won’t fit into a normal space shuttle when it is set up. This is a problem. Ultimately, NASA will have to send it into space folded up, and the telescope has to unfold after it is deployed. If anything goes wrong in this deployment, since there is no way to remotely deploy the sun-shield and mirror, it will mean years of research and billions of dollars wasted.

The launch is set to occur in 2018, and it will surely captivate the field of astronomy for many years to come.


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