January 22, 2022

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James Webb Space Telescope in the sky: 'Looking back in time' |  abroad

James Webb Space Telescope in the sky: ‘Looking back in time’ | abroad

James Webb was built by the European Space Agency (ESA), the United States (NASA), and Canada (CSA). From the Netherlands, Leiden University, the research institute TNO and the scientific office NOVA-OIR are participating in the €8 billion project.

James Webb can see a billion years in time further than Hubble can. Among other things, he has to search for planets on which life is possible, about distant galaxies and traces of the Big Bang. It must remain in use for at least ten years. Since James Webb is so far away, he is not bothered by the Earth’s heat. At his workplace, the temperature is minus 233 degrees. This makes the measurements more accurate and reliable.

Its predecessor, Hubble, was launched in 1990 and has been orbiting the Earth ever since at an altitude of more than 500 km. More than thirty years later, Hubble has come to the end of his life. Recently, the telescope has been regularly shut down due to technical issues. Sometime in the next 10 years, Hubble will fall out of orbit. Then it burns in the atmosphere.

James Webb should be at his workplace in about a month. The first images and data are expected in the summer of 2022.

worked for a long time

James Webb has been working on for a long time. Development began in 1996 and was planned to be launched as early as 2007. However, the departure was postponed several times due to technical problems. The coronavirus pandemic is also causing delays.

James Webb is the size of a tennis court. The core is a 6.5 meter gold-beryllium mirror. It picks up light from space. It can be seen in time past a billion years further than Hubble.

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