Takeoff: The James Webb Space Telescope is on its way to its location, 1.5 million km away

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.

Looking back a billion years

The space telescope is about the size of a tennis court and had to be folded to fit the Ariane 5 rocket loading bay. Three minutes after launch, the capsule was discarded and 27 minutes later the telescope was launched. James Webb will slowly unfold throughout his journey.

You can see how the telescope will study the universe in the video below:

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.

Hubble will burn

“Webb’s promise is not to discover what we expect, but to make discoveries about the universe that we cannot even imagine,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said after the launch. “I can’t wait to see what he shows.”

Dutchman Maurice T. Plait collaborated on the huge project. “It’s a crazy idea that it’s actually here now, but it’s definitely good that it’s finally happening,” he says. “We worked hard, put a lot of energy into it. Now I want to see what he can do, and what he will show us all.”

The Hubble probe was launched in 1990 and has been orbiting the Earth since then 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.

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

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