James Webb Space Telescope Has Completed Final Test
Good news! NASA's long awaited successor to the Hubble Space Telescope has passed it's final ground test and will be shipped to French Guiana where it will be launched into space later this year. The exact date is still a moving target but it is planned for November or December.
The 44 feet long, 14 feet wide - 7.2 ton - telescope will peer further back into the universe's history than any instrument before, hoping to gain insight into the many mysteries of our existence. The $10 billion instrument will also be looking for direct and indirect signs of life on other planets and star systems.
The telescope will take about one month to fly to it's orbital location about 1 million miles away from Earth, near the second (L2) Lagrange point. Shortly after launch, Webb's sunshields will deploy and slowly cool the onboard instruments while the primary mirror unfolds. Once everything seems to be online and in line - there will be several months of fine tuning and calibrations. The expectation is for the instrument to begin scientific operations about six months after launch. Nearly 30 years since first planned, this generational project will open our eyes to the mysteries of the cosmos much like Hubble when it first launched. The secrets that it uncovers will be the foundation of our universal understanding for decades to come.