The universe is a vast and mysterious place, filled with secrets that have puzzled humanity for centuries. For many years, telescopes have been our eyes into the cosmos, allowing us to uncover some of its greatest mysteries. NASA James Webb Space Telescope is a marvel of engineering and a key to unlocking the mysteries of the cosmos. This great time machine has allowed us to look back 13.5 billion years to the beginning of time itself. In just a few months, NASA’s JSWT has shed light on its deepest mysteries.
But what exactly makes the JWST so special, and what has it already achieved? We will be discussing all the achievements of JWST, but first, we would like to give a quick flashback about JWST. Let’s start with.
JSWT’s state-of-the-art design and cutting-edge capabilities have revolutionized our understanding of the universe like never before. Here are some quick facts about the Webb telescope that you might find interesting:
- The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was originally known as the Next Generation Space Telescope and was renamed in 2002 to honor James E. Webb, who served as the highest-ranking official for NASA from 1961 to 1968. Webb is credited with transforming NASA from a disconnected organization into a highly coordinated machine. However, the decision to name the JWST after him was controversial due to his alleged role in firing employees suspected of homosexuality.
- NASA launched the Webb telescope on December 25, 2021. The launch took place at 12:20 UTC and the telescope was aboard an Ariane 5 ECA (VA256) rocket. The rocket was launched from the Centre Spatial Guyanais, ELA-3.
- The observatory’s primary mission is to study the universe’s first galaxies, stars, and planets and their formation.
- Experts estimate that constructing the telescope will cost around US$10 billion. This makes one of the most expensive space missions ever undertaken.
- They used 18 hexagonal segments to make the Webb mirror, and they applied a thin layer of gold that is only 100 nanometers thick to each segment.
- The mirror uses a little more than 48 grams of gold in total. People use gold to coat mirrors because it excellently reflects infrared light. The mirror uses a total mass of gold equivalent to that of a golf ball, and the thin layer of gold filling a volume the size of a marble.
- Webb can downlink a massive amount of recorded science data every day. It can transfer at least 57.2 gigabytes of data per day, and the maximum data rate is 28 megabits per second. This is a significant improvement compared to the Hubble Space Telescope, which can only transmit 120 megabytes of data per day.
- An onboard solar array powers Webb, providing 2,000 watts of electrical power for the life of the mission.
It also has a propulsion system that helps to maintain the observatory’s orbit and attitude. The propellant onboard is enough for at least 10 years of science operations.
- The James Webb telescope has four scientific instruments that use infrared detectors to capture light from distant astronomical sources. The Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), and the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) are the instruments at play. Designers create each instrument to perform specific functions and give them unique capabilities.
- The Webb telescope has a five- to 10-year mission lifetime.
Now, let’s dig into the achievements so far JWST has made. This is how we have elaborated on JWST’s achievements:
What are the achievements of the James Webb Space Telescope?
The James Webb Telescope has a range of scientific objectives, including observing the distant universe to study the formation of the first galaxies. The telescope’s ability to collect light that has taken billions of years to travel across the cosmos allows astronomers to see the objects as they were billions of years ago. The JWST has already captured a ‘deep field’ image centered around the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, which is 4.6 billion light-years away.
The gravitational field of the galaxy cluster has distorted these galaxies, as shown in the image. It provides new methods to measure galaxy mass and study the properties of dust in intervening galaxies. The James Webb Telescope can observe galaxies in the infrared. This allows astronomers to compare observations made in visible light by other telescopes. And study the evolution of galaxies over cosmic time. The JWST has also studied Stephan’s Quintet and M74. These are a group of interacting galaxies and a spiral galaxy, respectively. The telescope has revealed previously unseen details about these galaxies. The telescope will collaborate with other observatories to study celestial objects and further our understanding of the universe. Infrared astronomy is especially useful for studying star formation. This is because longer wavelengths can penetrate the clouds of dust and gas that block visual light.
The James Webb Telescope has made several achievements in the field of exoplanet research. JWST can’t provide detailed images of planets outside our solar system. However, it did capture a direct image of an exoplanet: HIP 65426 b. This planet is between six to twelve times the mass of Jupiter. JWST used coronagraphs on its NIRCam and MIRI instruments to observe it. Also, JWST can analyze the light it receives to determine the chemical makeup of celestial objects.
Scientists used the NIRISS instrument of the JWST to study the exoplanet WASP-96 b and detected the presence of water vapor in its atmosphere. Furthermore, the James Webb Telescope has also targeted planets within our own Solar System, including Jupiter and Neptune. JWST has been successful in capturing different wavelengths from the NIRCam instrument to create an image of Jupiter, where brightness represented altitude in the Jovian atmosphere. The JWST’s ability to observe planetary systems provides opportunities to study smaller planets and cooler planets more similar to Earth, and giant planets in much more detail than previously available.
Now let’s conclude this discussion:
On the whole:
The James Webb Space Telescope is a remarkable achievement in human ingenuity and technology. The telescope has already achieved remarkable milestones. One of which is taking us back 13.5 billion years to the birth of the universe. Moreover, observing the distant universe to study the formation of the first galaxies. The James Webb Telescope has a minimum mission lifetime. However, it has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the universe in unimaginable ways. It will undoubtedly play a crucial role in uncovering the secrets of the cosmos as we continue to explore the vastness of space. Its discoveries will inspire future generations to keep looking up and push the boundaries of science and technology.
Published by: Sky Headlines