The largest telescope in human history, James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is planned to be launched on Christmas Eve this year and is said to show the humanity the things it has never seen before.
Though JWST was started to develop in 1996 and originally was planned to be launched in 2007, the project had multiple delays over the years. Even this year the launch date was postponed a couple of times bringing it to Friday, 24th of December.
It is planned for JWST to succeed the famous Hubble telescope and to allow a broad range of investigations in cosmology and astronomy fields. Compared to the Hubble Telescope (which observes in near ultraviolet, visible and near infrared spectra), JWST will use infrared light which will enable to observe objects too distant or too old for Hubble to see. JWST is jointly developed by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
It is said to be 100 times more powerful than Hubble! There are 2 reasons for that. First, the size itself. JWST is much bigger compared to Hubble and the largest so far in human history. Second, the size of the mirrors matters a lot too. The diameter of mirror of the Hubble telescope is 2.4 m while JWST will have 18 hexagonal mirror segments which combine to give 6.5 m diameter. And fun fact: these segments are made from beryllium plates which are covered with gold.
Let’s hope that there will not be any more delays and we will get Merry Christmas from JWST as we did from Apollo 8 in 1968!
Photo credit: NASA