On Saturday, the James Webb Space Telescope was launched successfully into space. It is a nine-billion dollar infrared telescope that will allow mankind to see further into the universe than any other instrument.
Everything went to plan and less than a half an hour later the French-made booster released the state-of-the-art instrument – named after James Webb, who headed NASA in its formative period in the 1960s – into space.
Over the next two weeks, the telescope is going to be unwinding its antennas to eventually reach the size of a tennis court, while flying away from Earth at the speed of 40,000kph (25,000 miles per hour).
NASA hailed the launch as “the beginning of a new, exciting decade of science,” saying that Webb’s mission “will change our understanding of space as we know it.”
The new observatory is going to become a replacement for the Hubble Space Telescope, which had been circling the Earth’s low orbit for the last three decades, primarily operating at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.
Webb’s telescope is 100 times more sensitive than Hubble. It’s going to study the cosmos in the infrared spectrum, allowing the scientists a glimpse at the theoretical flashpoint that started the expansion of the observable universe an estimated 13.8 billion years ago.
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