On Christmas Day 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope was launched from Europe’s Spaceport, in French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, and has been gradually deployed:
25th December – launch & unfolding of solar array making communications possible
4th January – the sun shield deployed
8th January – mirror unfolded
The telescope, named after the man who was largely responsible for the Apollo programme, is designed to see back to the first galaxies at the beginning of the early Universe. This has been made possible because the light from these distant stars has travelled for 14 billion years to reach our solar system, so when it is detected by the telescope, we will essentially be looking back in time to the early days of the Universe.
The project is a joint collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency. Packed full of state-of-the-art technology and scientific instruments, the telescope will eventually orbit the Sun approximately one million miles from Earth. This journey will take about 30 days in total and the telescope will then spend 6 months getting ready to work fully.
Here at the Left-handed Lemon, we are eagerly awaiting the publication of the first images sent back from the JWST – how exciting to be able to look back in time!
Until next time, keep calm & apply some Science!