NASA set to launch world’s biggest and most powerful space telescope

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(Courtesy of NASA)

(ABC4) – The biggest and most powerful space telescope ever built is set to launch on Wednesday, Dec. 22. NASA hopes to answer some questions about our past as well as our future.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be one million miles away from Earth, equipped with a giant sun shield the size of a tennis court. Webb is set to provide us with the most detailed images of the cosmos ever captured.

Webb will act as a window into the past, revealing the first stars and galaxies that formed after the Big Bang some 13.5 billion years ago. It’s a period of time we know little about in our universe’s history — the light from it being so faint that it can’t be reached by the telescopes we currently have in space.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket, one of the world’s most reliable launch vehicles. To give you an idea, the Ariane 5’s record for successful consecutive launches is 80. Webb will be launched from Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at the European Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. It is beneficial for launch sites to be located near the equator — the spin of the Earth can help give an additional push.

For the telescope to fit into the rocket, it must fold up. These images show how it fits:

Scientists are hoping to unravel some mysteries such as how our very first stars assembled into galaxies and how those galaxies evolved over time. In addition to research on our universe’s past, the James Webb Telescope will search for potential signs of habitability that may be present in today’s worlds beyond our own.

It’s an exciting mission as NASA will be looking at atmospheres of different planets, in search of ingredients for life, and a greater understanding of the cosmos.

To learn more about the James Webb Space Telescope, click here.

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