The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Hubble Space telescope’s much-awaited successor is almost ready for a launch. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) or simply ‘Webb,’ which was originally mooted nearly 30 years ago and saw frequent delays, now has a probable launch date. NASA officials confirmed that the Webb Space Telescope is scheduled for a launch date of Sunday, October 31, 2021, a seven-month delay than the previous target date of March 2021. The delay is due to the pandemic and various technical issues.
The premier space agency’s 8.8 billion USD space telescope this week completed its final functional tests at the Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California. NASA plans to ship Webb to its European launch site in French Guiana and it is set to soar on a European Ariane 5 rocket.
When unfurled in space, it will resemble a giant sunflower. Its next series of technical milestones will include the final folding of Webb’s sunshield and deployment of its 21 ft. (6.5 meter) diameter mirror, which comprises 18 hexagonal segments of gold-plated beryllium, a big leap when compared to the Hubble Space Telescope’s is 7 ft 10 in (2.4 meters).
The mirror will be housed within an origami-like structure that will unfurl once in space after hundreds of small, automated manoeuvres. Webb is destined to fly a million miles out (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth, at a designated L2 or second Lagrange Point. It will then stay in a fixed position which will be relative to the Sun and Earth.
The new space telescope is designed and funded by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Named after James E Webb, NASA’s administrator during the Apollo era, Webb is around the size of a tennis court. When operative, it will be the largest, most powerful and most complex space science telescope ever constructed.
It is hoped that the new space telescope will help solve mysteries in our solar system, closely study exoplanets and further probe the structures and origins of the Universe. Among other features, Webb can also detect faint infrared light that will be its biggest advantage over its predecessor, the Hubble.
This Article firstly Publish on www.news18.com