3 May 2016

NASA unveiled New Golden Telescope; Gives Hubble a Run for Its Money

  • (Photo : Wikimedia Commons) The biggest telescope, a tennis court wide and three-story building strong, is not only the largest in the world, but in the universe.

NASA officials finally unveil their star telescope and hope that someday it will soar above the Earth, giving astronomers an uninhibited view of the space. On Wedneday, when the telescope was uncovered, it stood tall under the gleaming fluorescent light of a sterile "Cleanroom" at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "It sure is shiny," one woman said. This is not enough to describe the massive, 14,300-pound telescope that is equipped with $8.8 billion worth of hardware and two decades of hard work.

Even though it was scheduled to launch in October 2018, this is the first time that its protective coverings were removed and the telescope could be seen in its full form. No one at NASA had seen the assembled telescope, not even Eric Smith, JWST program director.
"It's amazingly beautiful," Smith said. "I've seen this as PowerPoints and CAD drawings for about 20 years now. But to actually see those dreams made manifest is really pretty moving."
This telescope is larger than any other ever launched by NASA and is far more efficient than the Hubble telescope that JWST will eventually replace. Each hexagon in the mirror is capable of collecting one-fifth more light than its predecessor and it is also portable, which means that it can be folded and fitted onto a rocket that will carry it in the orbit.
When JWST is finally launched, it will carry four scientific instruments, two provided by NASA and the other two by Canadian and European space agencies. These components are designed to sense light at a particular wavelength, allowing the telescope to look deeper into the universe.
These components have been deemed necessary for four scientific missions - locating the oldest galaxies and stars, understanding of how galaxies were formed, observing the formation of new stars and solar systems, and looking for signs of life in other neighboring planets.