May 18, 2024

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James Webb Space Telescope launch schedule

James Webb Space Telescope launch schedule

At 1:20 pm (Spanish time), the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is scheduled to launch from Kourou in French Guiana. Its launch was scheduled for December 24, but due to bad weather conditions had to be postponed to Christmas Day.

James Webb, created by NASA in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canada (CSA), will begin a journey to his destination, called Lagrange Point 2, located 1.5 million kilometers from Earth in the opposite direction from the Sun. .

Even thirty minutes of travel it will not be known for sure whether the connection with Webb is working or not

He will do so in a precise and accurate deployment process, while reaching his goal. The telescope will take off folded into the front of an Ariane 5 rocket. Within 27 minutes of travel and 200 kilometers of altitude, JWST will begin a process of more than 300 movements to adopt its functional chassis. According to NASA, this process will last 14 days of “terror.”

The telescope will go from a folded area of ​​5 x 10 metres, to the size of a tennis court at its base with a height of 8 metres.

After launch, within half an hour of travel, JWST will deploy its communications antenna. Until then, the ground crew will not be able to communicate with the telescope, or confirm that the communication is working.

Another important part of the deployment process is assembling and tightening its protective shield, which is made up of five layers of Kapton that will insulate the mirror and device unit from heat and light. Without the shield, the telescope would not be able to operate at the -233 degrees Celsius that its equipment requires to operate.

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The reason they operate at such a low temperature is that they are designed to capture infrared radiation, allowing you to observe some of the oldest and most distant stars in the universe.

It differs from the Hubble Space Telescope, its predecessor, in that it was designed to observe the universe primarily in the visible light range, rather than in the infrared, making it less suitable for studying radiation from the early universe.

Another important difference from Hubble is that in the event of failure, JWST cannot be repaired in space. So any failure in post-launch deployment of the telescope could spell the end of a mission that has cost $10 billion to date.

The JWST main mirror, a plate made of 18 hexagons of beryllium and gold, intercepts infrared radiation transmitted from all regions of the universe. The radiation is reflected from the primary mirror to the secondary mirror; And from there to the Scientific Instruments module, which will process the data.

Together, Webb’s instruments are able to capture infrared radiation that has traveled for 13.5 billion years, since the time of the first galaxies formed. This sensitivity allows it to go back between 100 and 250 million years after the great explosion .

Using JWST, it will be possible to explore how planetary systems and star clusters form. Also if the composition of the atmosphere and the surface of some exoplanets meet favorable conditions for hosting life.