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James Webb Space Telescope 100 times more powerful than Hubble Wednesday, 22 December 2021

James Webb Space Telescope 100 times more powerful than Hubble

A NASA mission 25 years in development is finally ready for launch, and contributors from the Land of Enchantment are eager to join its search for life beyond Earth.

The James Webb Space Telescope took the effort of thousands of scientists, engineers, and technicians from 29 states and fourteen countries. Tony Hull, adjunct astronomy and physics professor at the University of Northern New Mexico, led a team that polished all of the telescope’s 18 primary mirrors and additional optics.

"We’re going to see things we never dreamed of before, and we’re going to even understand more about planets in our solar system," he said. "We’re going to understand more about exoplanets."

James Webb is viewed as the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990, but 100 times more powerful. The $10 billion telescope is scheduled to launch this Friday.

The Webb telescope is so large in its full configuration that it had to be folded origami-style into the rocket in preparation for launch. To work properly, Hull said, it must accomplish complex choreography when it reaches its destination 1 million miles from Earth.

"We’ve never deployed a sunshield of this efficiency in this number of layers at the size of a tennis court before in space," he said. "We’ve never unfolded a mirror in space — so there are so many things that were done for the first time."

UNM assistant professor Diana Dragomir will be one of several astronomers around the globe who study data delivered from the Webb telescope.

"Understanding how the very first galaxies formed," she said, "and then seeing these galaxies kind of how they evolved through time from 14 billion years ago to today."

Once it launches, the telescope will travel for about a month until it reaches its destination. James Webb is a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency.

Source: New Mexico News Connection

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