On December 25, 2021, NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), an infrared telescope, launched through the Arianespace’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on South America’s northeast coast.
- It is named after James Edwin Webb, one of the architects of the Apollo Moon programme.
- This 14,000-pound (around 6350 Kg) instrument is a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope (1990-till date), and Spitzer space telescope (2003-2020).
- It will be positioned at a spot called Lagrange Point 2 (L2), 1.5million kilometers from earth or more than four times beyond the moon.
- Its commissioning in space will take 6 months.
- The mission span is between 5-15 years.
- JWST is NASA’s largest and most powerful space science telescope
JWST: An International Collaboration:
The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in partnership with the European space agency (ESA) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
- Astronomical operation of the telescope will be managed from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, United States (US). It will be initiated in summer of 2022.
JWST is an international collaboration between NASA and its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency. Thousands of engineers and hundreds of scientists worked to make Webb a reality, along with over 300 universities, organizations, and companies from 29 U.S. states and 14 countries.
Webb was developed at a cost of $8.8 billion. With operational expenses its projected price is $9.66 billion.
4 Instruments of JWST:
It is equipped with four instruments viz. Near-Infrared Camera, Near-Infrared Spectrograph, Mid-Infrared Instrument, and Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph.
What JWST is seeking?
The telescope will seek the unobserved formation of the first galaxies; look inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today; explore the solar system, and planets orbiting other stars, called exoplanets along with Jupiter’s intriguing moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. It will study infrared light from celestial objects with much greater clarity. The collected data will help find answers to questions in four areas of modern astronomy:
- First light
- Assembly of galaxies
- Birth of stars and protoplanetary systems
- Planetary systems and the origin of life
The Webb telescope will send data to Earth via a high-frequency radio transmitter and large radio antennas will receive these signals.
India’s Contribution in JWST:
i.NASA chose India among seven countries for a pre-launch briefing three days ago on its website about the mission. Lucknow-born Hashima Hasan, Nasa’s JWST Deputy Program Scientist, represented India.
- She is doctorate in theoretical nuclear physics from Oxford University, she had earlier worked with Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai (Maharashtra)
ii.NASA also chose a painting by schoolgirl Gaurilakshmi to highlight among other children’s artwork at the launch of the telescope
Recent Related News:
Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh stated about the proposed launch of ‘NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar’ (NISAR) in early 2023. NISAR is a joint Earth-observation satellite mission between ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) and NASA for global observations over all land masses including the Polar cryosphere and the Indian Ocean region (IOR).
About NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration):
Administrator– Sen. Bill Nelson
Headquarters– Washington, D.C., United States (US)