The James Webb Space Telescope is nearly ready to go into space after several delays and budget adjustments. The $10 billion telescope, which succeeded Hubble, arrived in French Guiana after a 16-day cruise aboard the MN Colibri.
The 1,500-mile journey saw the telescope leave Seal Beach in California on September 26, and enter the Panama Canal on October 5, before making its way to Port de Pariacabo, French Guiana.
Also, after being unloaded from the cargo ship, it will be transported to the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, where it will undergo preparations for two months before being launched into space with an Ariane 5 rocket on December 18.
The James Webb Telescope (JWST) is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) that will allow astronomers to go back to the history of the universe more than ever before.
“The James Webb Space Telescope is a huge achievement, created to change our view of the universe and advance amazing science,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
Webb will look back more than 13 billion years at the light that was created just after the Big Bang, with the ability to show the farthest distances we’ve ever seen in space.
Although it is often described as a successor to Hubble, Marcia Rick, Regent Professor of Astronomy at the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, believes it is a “completely new and different telescope”.
“The Hubble and Spitzer telescopes have revolutionized our understanding of the universe, but with Webb, we will be able to explore galaxies much closer to the Big Bang than ever before,” she said in a separate statement.
The telescope will monitor the universe in near and medium infrared with wavelengths longer than visible light, and to do so, it carries an array of the latest cameras and spectrometers, and it also has the largest astronomical mirror ever sent into space, a giant 21 feet tall and 4 inches.