Starts With A Bang

The future of astronomy: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (Synopsis)

Illustration credit: NASA.

“Now the world has gone to bed,
Darkness won’t engulf my head,
I can see by infrared,
How I hate the night.” -Douglas Adams

In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched and deployed, becoming the first space-based observatory. In the years since, many others have followed, covering the entire electromagnetic spectrum, but with nothing superseding Hubble over the wavelengths it covers. That will all change with the James Webb Space Telescope, currently on schedule and almost ready for its October 2018 launch date.

Image credit: NASA / JWST / HST team.

The science instruments are all complete, the final mirrors are being inserted into the optical assembly, the sunshield (a new, innovative component) is almost complete, and then it just needs assembly and launch. When it’s all said and done, JWST will be orders of magnitude greater than all the other observatories that came before, and will finally allow us to truly see the first stars, galaxies and quasars in the Universe, not limited by the obscuring neutral gas that currently blocks our view with other observatories.

Image credit: NASA / JWST team.

Enjoy the whole longread, complete with component pictures and updates current as of January 2016, here!