ADVERTISEMENT

6 Fun Facts about the James Webb Space Telescope [Slide Show]

The mammoth infrared observatory, scheduled to launch in 2014, will look back to the first stars in the universe

1 of 6

FIRST LIGHT

The universe's first generation of stars , predicted to be superbright behemoths of hydrogen and helium, has yet to be directly observed by humankind, leaving blank a chapter in our understanding of the universe's evolution.....[ More ]

ONE SHOT TO GET IT RIGHT (MAYBE)

Hubble's life has been extended time and again through five servicing missions in which space shuttle astronauts have fixed faulty components, upgraded instrumentation and replaced batteries. The first such mission [ pictured ] was an absolute necessity; Hubble's mirror was malformed, causing optical problems that crippled the telescope until astronauts could fix it.....[ More ]

DEEP SPACE

JWST will operate at a second Lagrangian point, or L2, a location in space 1.5 million kilometers away where the gravity of the sun and that of Earth balance out to keep the spacecraft essentially stationary relative to Earth.....[ More ]

MIRROR, MIRROR

The telescope's mirror comprises 18 hexagonal segments, each 1.3 meters across. In the photograph [ above ] six mirror segments undergo testing at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.....[ More ]

MADE (TO BE) IN THE SHADE

JWST is an infrared observatory, designed to seek out small, faint objects—such as nearby exoplanets—by the heat they emit as well as extremely distant objects whose light has been stretched, or redshifted, from the visible or ultraviolet to longer infrared wavelengths.....[ More ]

ORBITAL ORIGAMI

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be a giant—its multilayered sun shield stretches 22 meters, nearly twice the length of the Hubble Space Telescope. In order to fit inside the aerodynamic payload capsule on top of an Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket, both JWST's sun shield and 6.5-meter mirror will be meticulously folded—its planned deployment in space looks like nothing so much as a butterfly unfurling from its cocoon.....[ More ]

risk free title graphic

YES! Send me a free issue of Scientific American with no obligation to continue the subscription. If I like it, I will be billed for the one-year subscription.

cover image Subscribe Now
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Share this Article:
Scientific American Back To School

Back to School Sale!

12 Digital Issues + 4 Years of Archive Access just $19.99

Order Now >

X

Email this Article



This function is currently unavailable

X