The James Webb Space Telescope is finally completed!

Credit: NASA/JWST

Credit: NASA/JWST

20 years ago, back in 1996, NASA scientists began to assemble the James Webb Space Telescope. This next-generation telescope was created as a means to surpass that of the famous Hubble Space Telescope, which is currently that largest ever created. Now, twenty years later and twice the size of the Hubble telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope is finally completed.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) paves the way for the future of space exploration. With a 21-foot mirror, this powerful telescope is now the largest in existance. The JWST will provide us with the opportunity to see the birth of galaxies, search for life on faraway planets, and give us a better understanding of the origins and functions of the Universe.

NASA has announced their scheduled launch of the JWST to be in October of 2018. However, before they can begin preparing for this launch they will need to put the telescope through a series of extensive tests.

As a way to simulate the rough conditions that the JWST will encounter during its launch, scientists will shake the Space Telescope and expose it to sound waves of up to 150 decibels. After that, they will test its ability to withstand the extreme cold of space through cryogenic testing. Next the JWST will be installed onto the spacecraft bus to run several tests, including in-flight communication and its computer systems.

If it passes these previous tests, scientists will finally install it with a solar shield roughly the size of a tennis court. This will protect its hardware and delicate instruments when far out in space. Once equipped with its shield, the JWST will undergo further testing before its scheduled launch.

Credit: NASA/JWST

Credit: NASA/JWST

It is crucial that every aspect, measurement and condition are correctly set and that the JWST passes these tests before being launched into space. Everything must go according to plan because, unlike the Hubble telescope which can easily be worked on if a problem arises, the JWST will be about 930,000 miles out of reach, making maintenance nearly impossible.

When the James Webb Space Telescope is in its position, it will allow scientists with the ability to see aspects of this universe that have never been discovered before. Eighteen large hexagonal mirrors will collect and read infrared light that is produced by all objects up in space. This will provide us with a way to learn more about distant stars and even planets that have yet to be discovered.

For more information about the James Webb Space Telescope, check out NASA’s JWST page.

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