The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) of NASA, the largest and most powerful ever launched telescope, is finally in orbit. The observatory is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. It was launched on the Christmas day from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, in South America at 7:20 EST (12:20 GMT). The telescope lifted off atop an Ariane 5 rocket. The full path to orbit, also including slowing down, will take about a month. Over the course of the 29 days, the telescope structures will be unfolding and getting ready, but things won’t be working until they cool down all the way to its low and stable temperatures. Since 2004, thousands of scientists, technicians and engineers from 14 countries have spent 40 million hours building the telescope. The telescope comes equipped with a mirror that can extend 21 feet and 4 inches (6.5 meters). It’s the largest mirror NASA has ever built.
The world’s most powerful and complex space observatory will answer questions about our solar system, study exoplanets in new ways and look deeper into the universe. It will act as an infrared detective, detecting light that is invisible to us and revealing otherwise hidden regions of space. This telescope will help us understand the origins of the universe and begin to answer key questions about our existence, examining the first galaxies formed 13.5 billion years ago. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson shared his gratitude for the international teams that made the mission possible. The telescope will begin to collect data and its first images later in 2022.