- Jonathan Amos
- BBC Science Reporter
The $ 10 billion James Webb Telescope has left Earth to explore the first stars to illuminate the universe.
The Kourou spacecraft in French Guiana was launched into telescopic space by the Ariane rocket from the launch pad.
The journey took less than half an hour to reach the orbit around the earth as the signal for success in reaching the target was taken by the ground antenna in Malindi, Kenya.
A web space telescope named after one of the engineers of the Apollo moon landing will replace the defunct Hubble telescope.
But engineers working with American, European and Canadian space companies worked to make the new telescope 100 times more powerful than its predecessor.
“The James Webb Telescope begins its journey towards the birth of the universe by launching from the tropical rainforest to the edge of time,” said Rob Navias, a spokesman for NASA, the U.S. space agency at the time of the rocket’s launch. Earth.
Scientists and those behind the project were eagerly awaiting the launch, but the launch came with great concern.
Thousands of people around the world have worked on this project for the past three decades, although the Ariane missile is a reliable vehicle – there is no guarantee when it comes to missiles.
“Launch of a web telescope is an extraordinary task,” said Bill Nelson, an employee of the U.S. Space Agency before the launch.
“The telescope is a prime example of what we can achieve when we rise in our dreams. We always know that this project can be a risky endeavor. But, of course, if you want to get a great reward, you usually have to take it. Great risk.”
The 6.5 meter wide gold glass is at the center of the new telescope’s capabilities. It is three times wider than the primary reflector glass in the Hubble telescope.
Magnifying lenses and four more sensitive instruments will allow astronomers to see deeper into space – and thus over time – than ever before.
The primary target will be the era of the pioneering stars who ended the Dark Ages 13.5 billion years ago, shortly after the Big Bang, which was thought to have obscured celestial bodies.
Carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur – the nuclear reactions in these bodies that make up the first heavy atoms needed for life.
Another important goal of the Web Telescope is to explore the atmosphere in search of distant planets. This will help scientists and researchers to find out if these worlds inhabit any kind.
“We’re going to enter a new astronomy, a new frontier, and that’s what excites many of us about the James Web Space Telescope,” said Heidi Hummel, a planetary astronomer and intermediate scientist on the mission.
The launch of the telescope is the beginning of complex initial operations over the next six months.
The telescope is placed on the path to an observatory 1.5 million km from Earth.
During the journey to this place, one has to distract oneself from the flexible position that existed at the moment the telescope was launched.
Mark McAkrene, a senior scientific adviser at the European Space Agency, explains, “The important thing then is that all areas need a lot of cooling.
“The temperature of this telescope will actually reach minus 233 degrees Celsius. Only then will this telescope stop shining at invisible infrared wavelengths where we want it to work. Only then can we take sensitive pictures of the distant universe. It saw the birth of the first galaxies,” he says. , To planets orbiting other stars. So, there is still a long way to go. ”
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