The James Webb Space Telescope launched on Christmas Day to explore the depths of our universe

LSC Space News Now

There’s a big space story you may have missed on Christmas Day!

On Dec. 25 at 7:20 AM ET, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) lifted off on a mission to explore the most distant regions of our universe.

The JWST is in some ways a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, perhaps the most famous telescope in history.

Having said that, there are very important differences between the two space telescopes. Unlike the Hubble, which “sees” the universe in visible light, the JWST sees in the longer wavelengths of infrared.

The JWST needs to be very cold to do its work; this is a key reason why it will orbit one million miles from Earth. The Hubble, meanwhile, orbits only a few hundred miles above our planet and was visited five times by space shuttle missions to repair and upgrade the telescope. The JWST will be far beyond the reach of any human mission.

It will take the JWST 30 days to reach its destination. During that trip, it will unfurl its mirrors and its sunshield. After six months setting up and testing the instrument, the telescope’s science mission will begin in the summer of 2022. JWST will be able to observe the earliest galaxies and stars in the universe, the first to evolve out of the Big Bang that started our universe over 13 billion years ago.

When LSC reopens in 2022, you can learn more about the JWST when you check out a show in LSC’s Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the biggest planetarium in America!

More News