A powerful telescope at the very edge of known space

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The Giant New Space Telescope
By Jerry Brownstein
Exploring strange new worlds, seeking the origins of the universe, and searching for life in the galaxy. These are not the plot of a new science fiction movie, but the mission objectives of the James Webb Space Telescope - the long-awaited successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA has created the Webb in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canada.

Its launch, on December 18, 2021, propelled the Webb nearly a million miles from earth. Quotes from distinguished scientists echo the excitement surrounding this new adventure: “It will usher in a new age of astronomy, showing humanity things it has never seen before.” “The Webb represents the culmination of decades, if not centuries, of astronomy.” “We’re going right up to the edge of the observable universe with Webb, and we’re excited to see what’s there.”

Hubble was launched in 1990, and it has had a remarkable 30 year run of success in revealing many secrets of the universe. Webb will take this work to a new level as it is much larger, more technologically sophisticated and 100 times more powerful. Also, Hubble was stationed in close earth orbit whereas Webb will be at the very edge of known space. This will make it possible to seek traces of the very first stars and galaxies of our universe. Webb will also allow us to closely study numerous exoplanets (planets that orbit distant stars) in the search for signs of life.

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