Monday, January 24, after a 30-day journey into space, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the biggest and the most advanced space observatory ever constructed, about 100 times more powerful than Hubble, arrived at its final destination 1.5 million kilometers away from our planet. It’s currently in the constellation of Monoceros, slightly east of Orion’s Belt. Here, about four times the distance of the Earth to the Moon, the gravity of the Earth and Sun combine to create a relatively stable location.Unlike Hubble, which looks at the universe in visible and ultraviolet light, Webb captures ancient, stretched infrared light. It can look further back in time. Every photon Webb will detect is old light. As an infrared telescope it will detect the very oldest, most ancient light, emitted soon after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.
Danger is Webb is too far away to fix if something goes wrong. Now, the engineers will align the mirrors. NASA says it could take until April 24 to align the 18 hexagonal gold-covered beryllium segments. The first images are going to be ugly. After, engineers will take about two months to point Webb at some bright stars to properly collimate and focus the telescope. The science instruments must be cooled down to a temperature of -370 degrees Fahrenheit/-223 degrees Celsius. Probably only on May the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope could be received on good shape.