NASA’s Webb Telescope Launches to See the First Galaxies, Distant Worlds – Did You Rise For It?


Editor’s Note: This release was updated on December 25 to reflect the observatory’s release at a distance of 870 miles (1,400 km).

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launched at 7:20 a.m. EST Saturday aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from the European Spaceport in French Guiana, South America.

A joint effort with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, the Webb observatory is NASA’s revolutionary flagship mission to search for light from the first galaxies in the universe. early universe and explore our solar system and planets orbiting stars, known as exoplanets.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope launched at 7:20 a.m. EST on December 25 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from the European Spaceport in French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America. .
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launched at 7:20 a.m. EST on December 25 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from the European Spaceport in French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America. . Webb, in partnership with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, will explore every stage of the history of the universe – from within our own solar system to the most distant observable galaxies. in the early universe. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

“The James Webb Space Telescope represents the ambition that NASA and our partners maintain to propel us into the future,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Webb’s promise was not what we knew we would discover; that’s what we don’t understand or can’t understand about our universe. I can’t wait to see what it discovers! ”

Ground crews began receiving telemetry data from Webb about five minutes after launch. The Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket performed as expected, separating from the observatory after a 27-minute flight. The observatory was dropped at an altitude of about 870 miles (1,400 km). About 30 minutes after launch, Webb opened up its solar array, and mission managers confirmed that the solar array was powering the observatory. After deploying the solar array, mission operators will establish a communication link with the observatory via the Malindi ground station in Kenya, and ground control at the Institute of Telescope Management Science. The space mission in Baltimore will send the first commands to the spacecraft.

Engineers and ground controllers will conduct the first of three mid-flight calibrations burning about 12 hours and 30 minutes after launch, firing Webb’s thrusters to steer the spacecraft in orbit optimal trajectory toward its destination in an orbit about 1 million miles from Earth.

“I want to congratulate the team on this incredible achievement – ​​the launch of Webb marks an important moment not only for NASA, but for the thousands of people around the world who have dedicated their time to the world. their time and talents for this mission over many years,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Webb’s scientific promise is closer than ever. We are poised on the brink of a truly exciting moment of discovery, about things we’ve never seen or imagined before. ”

The world’s largest and most complex space science observatory will now start operating in space for six months. At the end of the operation, Webb will provide the first images. Webb carries four state-of-the-art scientific instruments with highly sensitive infrared detectors with unmatched resolution. Webb will study infrared light from celestial objects with greater clarity than ever before. The flagship mission is the scientific successor to NASA’s iconic Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, built to complement and further enhance the scientific discoveries of these and other missions. other destiny.

“The launch of the Webb Space Telescope is a pivotal moment – ​​this is just the beginning of the Webb mission,” said Gregory L. Robinson, Webb program director at NASA Headquarters. “We will now follow Webb’s critical and much-anticipated 29 days of competition. When the spacecraft arrives in space, Webb will go through the most complex and difficult deployment sequence ever attempted in space. Once the commissioning is complete, we will see inspiring images that will capture our imaginations.”

The telescope’s revolutionary technology will explore every stage of the universe’s history – from the interior of our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe, to everything in between. between. Webb will reveal new and unexpected discoveries and help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it.

NASA headquarters oversees the mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages Webb for the agency and oversees mission work by the Space Telescope Science Institute, Northrop Grumman, and mission partners other performed. In addition to Goddard, several NASA centers contributed to the project, including the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, and others.

For more information about the Webb mission, visit:

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