NASA kicks a year-long countdown to the James Webb Space Telescope

A year later, NASA will send the James Webb Space Telescope into space and work in orbit around the sun. By contrast, the former Hubble telescope orbited the Earth, observing the universe through visible and ultraviolet wavelengths. The Earth’s distance is about 150 million kilometers, the moon is 384,400 kilometers, and the Hubble telescope is in orbit 570 kilometers from Earth.

NASA kicks a year-long countdown to the James Webb Space Telescope

Video screenshot (from: NASA)

The James Webb Space Telescope is believed to be launched to L2 Lagrangian Point, 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. This means that it will not orbit the Earth like the Hubble telescope, but will go around the sun with the Earth.

In this way, it helps to further expand the field of view and infrared data of extraterrestrial stars that humans can capture. Of course, the telescope is not the first man-made device to reach L2 Lagrangian Point.

Assembly Time-Lapse Photography (via)

In fact, the Herschel Space Observatory has been in L2 orbit since 2009-2003. Unfortunately, the largest infrared telescope in history had to cease operation in April 2003 due to a depleted coolant.

As for the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (wavelength0.6 to 28.5 m / mirror 6.5 m), its capability is significantly higher than that of Hubble (0.8 to 2.5 m / 2.4 m) and Herschel (60 to 500 m / 3.5 m).

NASA kicks a year-long countdown to the James Webb Space Telescope

Master mirror size comparison

Nasa says the wavelength of the space telescope depends on different scientific purposes, such as Herschel’s goal of finding extreme, most active star-forming galaxies that emit most of their infrared energy outwards.

The James Webb Space Telescope was designed to find the first galaxy to form in the early universe, so it was extremely sensitive in near-infrared orientation.

Primary Mirror Size Select Between Webb and Hubble (via)

It takes about eight minutes for light to travel from the sun to Earth, and the James Webb Space Telescope in orbit is expected to see the first stars in the older “baby galaxy” at L2 Lagrangpoint.

At the time of writing, NASA had set a launch date for the project on March 30, 2021. If the COVID-19 outbreak is effectively controlled, it is believed that the James Webb Solar Telescope could be launched as scheduled next year.