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💫The James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope observing the cosmos. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a space telescope developed in collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. It is scheduled to be launched in May 2020 and will be located near the Earth–Sun L2 Lagrangian point. The telescope will offer unprecedented resolution and sensitivity from the long-wavelength (orange to red) visible light through the mid-infrared (0.6 to 27 μm) range. JWST's capabilities will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology. One particular goal involves observing some of the most distant events and objects in the universe, such as the formation of the first galaxies. These types of targets are beyond the reach of current ground and space-based instruments. Some other goals include understanding the formation of stars and planets, and direct imaging of exoplanets and novas. In gestation since 1996, it is part of NASA's Flagship program. The telescope is named after James E. Webb, the second administrator of NASA, who played an integral role in the Apollo program.

NASA has described JWST as the scientific successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, but not a replacement, because the capabilities are not identical. The JWST idea arose from a desire in the late 1980s and 1990s to see high redshift objects, older and farther away than previous instruments could assess. The result was a decision to extend the life of Hubble until the "Next Generation Space Telescope" (as it was then called) could go online and to investigate designs that would enable it to obtain images deeper into the infrared than Hubble, and beyond the capabilities of earlier space observatories such as the Infrared Space Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope. In contrast to the Hubble Space Telescope, which has a 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) mirror, the JWST primary mirror is composed of 18 hexagonal mirror segments for a combined mirror size of 6.5-meter-diameter (21 ft 4 in). A large sunshield will keep JWST's mirror and four science instruments below 50 K (−220 °C; −370 °F).


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