The special exploration will reach soon, from the hand of James Webb new and fascinating thresholds. And the most interesting thing about that phrase is that it is applicable in two historical contexts, one is the sixties of the last century, and the other is the moment we live in today. And that name serves to identify both who he was the second administrative manager of NASA and the main person responsible for making science the priority for the agency, as for the new generation telescope that will soon allow us to observe more and better everything that surrounds our planet.
Since the launch date of the James Webb space observatory has been a successive delay as a project, we must remember that, originally, the intention was to put it into space sometime in 2018. Now, after successive postponements, the Last the one that pointed to March of next year, it seems that we finally have a reasonably reliable date. If everything goes according to plan, as NASA claims, this masterpiece of engineering will leave earth and begin observing space from October 31, 2021.
This latest date change, according to the agency, is directly related to the coronavirus and, of course, the incidence that it has had in the assembly processes, tests and other processes associated with the commissioning of the James Webb. After conducting a risk assessment of the launch schedule, it was determined that it was impossible to meet the initially scheduled dates, given the enormous complexity of the telescope and the sheer volume of tasks required for its safe commissioning.
Launched by a consortium of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, inherits the best from its main predecessors, Hubble and Spicer, but incorporating many of the technological advances that have occurred since the commissioning of both. With these innovations, and among other objectives, it is intended to use the James Webb to study the formation of stars and planets and obtain direct images of exoplanets and novae.
To achieve these ends the James Webb it has 18 hexagons to form the primary mirror of 6.5 metersAlmost three times that of Hubble (2.4 meters), although, surprisingly, the telescope will have only half that of its predecessor, the still operational Hubble. Its distance from the earth will be around a million and a half kilometers, another aspect in which it multiplies by three (and a little more in this case) Hubble, which is located about 400,000 kilometers from our planet.
Image: NASA / Chris Gunn