The Webb telescope – a NASA project in development

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Parked for the moment in Greenbelt, Maryland, shrouded in a protective tent at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, it will be transported to the NASA Johnson Space Center. It will be tested in a vacuum chamber that will simulate the environment of deep space. From Houston it will be flown to Los Angeles, to a facility run by the project’s primary contractor, Northrop Grumman, where it will be mated with its sunshield and navigational hardware. In October 2018, it will be blasted into space atop a European Ariane rocket, from French Guiana. The Webb is different from the Hubble. It has 18 hexagonal mirrors that collectively are 6.5 meters, more than 21 feet  in diameter. It can collect seven times as much starlight. The new telescope can observe the universe in infrared wavelengths of light that are inaccessible to the Hubble. It may play a key role in the search for habitable worlds that are relatively nearby, orbiting stars in our own galactic neighborhood. The Webb can detect the clear signatures of atmospheres containing water, ozone, oxygen, methane and other molecules.

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