NASA and its international allies are counting down the Christmas day release of the most expensive scientific study ever built.Designed to capture starlight from the first galaxies born in .
Billions in budgets and many years late, the James Web Space Telescope is about to explode from the Ariane 5 rocket at 7:20 a.m. EST on Saturday at 7:20 a.m. Saturday from the European Space Agency’s Kourou, French Guiana launch site.
Equipped with two solid fuel strap-on boosters, the workhorse rocket propels its heat eastward from the northeast coast of South America and automatically flies 27 minutes after lifting the telescope.
The Ariane 5’s nose is still folded to fit inside the cone, and the single solar panel on the lab, which is important for recharging the spacecraft’s batteries, is scheduled to emerge six minutes after disassembly, the first of a series of major milestones.
Webb takes a month to reach its planned parking lot – known as Lagrange Point 2 – in the moon’s orbit a million miles from Earth – where it can orbit the sun at gravity, providing the necessary cool, dark environment. For mission success.
This telescope is optimized to capture images of the first stars and galaxies that have begun to shine after the Big Bang, as light has been extended to the infrared region of the spectrum by the expansion of space over the past 13.8 billion years.
That light cannot be seen by the child, Which is designed to study visible light wavelengths. Nevertheless, Hubble has detected galaxies within half a billion years of the Big Bang.
But the web can detect light going out when the universe is just 200 million years old or more, and push it several hundred million years beyond. It was the era in which the universe first emerged from the hydrogen fog of birth and began to travel freely in stellar space.
Close to home, the Web will study the atmospheres of the planets orbiting nearby stars and classify their habitat, providing regular, close-up view of the planets, moons, asteroids and comets in the Earth’s solar system from Mars.
But first, the telescope must deploy a five-layer sunscreen the size of a tennis court, with its detached 21.3-foot-wide main mirror spread out on a tripod that reveals its secondary glass.
That, The most complex that has not yet been attempted for a scientific study, will be carried out in the first two weeks of the mission.
If all goes well, engineers and astronomers will be able to adjust the telescope’s optical system for the next five months and measure its four scientific instruments. The first science fiction films are expected in about six months.