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James Webb Space Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope

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Imagine seeing 13 billion years back in time, watching the first stars grow, galaxies evolve and solar systems form…our James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will do just that!

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As the successor to our Hubble Space Telescope, JWST will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. Seems like a lot of pressure, right? Well luckily, JWST is being prepared to fulfill its job by some super smart people…to be exact: more than 1,000 people in more than 17 countries! Once completed and deployed, it will be able to study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems.

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The Webb Telescope incorporates several innovative technologies, such as its primary mirror that’s made of 18 separate segments! They are able to unfold and adjust to shape after launch, and are made up of ultra-lightweight beryllium.

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The sunshield is another impressive component of the telescope. The sunshield of the Webb Telescope is its biggest feature, and is the size of a tennis court! This five-layer monstrosity will deflect light and heat from the Sun, and allow pieces of the observatory to be kept very cold so they are able to operate properly.

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Last week, we successfully installed the first of 18 flight mirrors onto the telescope, beginning a critical piece of the observatory’s construction. The engineering team used a robot arm to lift and lower the hexagonal-shaped segment that measures just over 4.2 feet (1.3 meters) across and weighs approximately 88 pounds (40 kilograms). The full installation is expected to be complete early next year.

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This telescope is an international collaboration between NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and is scheduled to launch in October of 2018 on an Ariane 5 rocket. Until then, be sure to keep up with construction of this next generation space telescope: Twitter, Facebook.

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