Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

The James Webb Space Telescope will bring us closer to a galaxy far, far away

The James Webb Space Telescope could mean finding a human-sustaining planet in another galaxy.

The James Webb Space Telescope. Credit: Nasa


The NASA James Webb telescope could prove to be the biggest leap forward to humankind's exploration into deep space.

The Webb telescope will give us the ability to investigate the cosmos, unlocking secrets from the beginning of the Big Bang to how galaxies are formed and beyond, bringing us light years ahead of our current understanding of planetary evolution.

What Is the James Webb Telescope?

The James Webb Telescope is the newest introduction to NASA’s deep space exploration. NASA uses infrared wavelengths to measure objects very, very far away, and from those measurements, we learn about how planets are formed in different atmospheres, how galaxies are formed, and more.

The telescope is called Webb or JWST, and has a 6.5-meter mirror as its primary measurement tool. That mirror is made up of 18 separate pieces, that unfold and slide into place once it’s launched. The material of the mirrors, beryllium, is lighter than aluminum but stronger than steel, which will help it to survive out in deep space.

The James Webb Telescope also features a five-layer sunshield, about the size of a tennis court, that reduces the amplitude of the Sun’s heat. It also features many instruments, like cameras and spectrometers, that will enable it to detect and record event the faintest of signals. For a real-life comparison, think of it like this: JWST will be able to see a penny from about 24 miles away!

JWST will be able to study the formation of solar systems, and potentially even galaxies and planets capable of supporting human life.

James Webb Telescope vs Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Telescope was the predecessor to JWST. Due to the scientific breakthroughs from Hubble, scientists were encouraged to push deeper into space and learn more but needed more advanced technology to do so. Hence, the James Webb Space Telescope was born.

The Hubble telescope measures and gauges space entities via visible (or optical) and ultraviolet wavelengths. Hubble orbits about 340 miles from Earth and was launched into space in 1990.

JWST will observe deep space primarily in infrared. This means that it will be able to measure objects that are more distant, redshifted, and are further from the visible range of observation than Hubble.

JWST will be about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, at the second Lagrange point. (Lagrange points are gravitationally stable locations in space.) Don’t see JWST as a replacement to Hubble, however - they will work in tandem to explore further into space than ever before.

What The James Webb Telescope Means For Space Exploration

Once the James Webb Space Telescope is launched, it will be the largest observatory into space that has ever been conducted.

The telescope, which will operate at ultracool temperatures, will be able to detect infrared from the earliest stars and galaxies in the universe and analyze distant planets.

Unfortunately, the project has been beset by delays, from assembly to testing to defects in the shield. Originally set to launch in 2018, the project was pushed to 2019, and now has been delayed again to “no earlier than May 2020.”

"Webb will journey to an orbit about a million miles from the Earth — four times further than the moon," Thomas Zurbuchen said at a NASA news conference. Zurbuchen is the associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA. "Simply put, we have one shot to get this right before going into space. You've heard this before, and it rings true for Webb: For us, really, failure is not an option ... It needs even closer attention now as it nears the finish line."

"This is the largest international space science project in U.S. history, and we need to take the time necessary to evaluate its data very closely to ensure that we get back on track and get it right on the ground," Zurbuchen added. "We want to make sure that the launch is in 2020, and we have a path forward."

While engineers are working on fixes to hardware issues, NASA is working on implementing more oversight of the project with the contractor supporting the mission - Northrop Grumman.

Moving forward, the Webb telescope will be able to monitor the weather and atmosphere of objects previously out of observation range. With the ability to search for signs of life, water, and atmospheric pressure, the possibility that JWST could find an Earth-like replacement is more like a probability.

LIVE EVENT | Radical innovation: Unlocking the future of human invention

Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

NASA's idea for making food from thin air just became a reality — it could feed billions

Here's why you might eat greenhouse gases in the future.

Jordane Mathieu on Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
  • Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
  • The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Keep reading Show less

Navy SEALs: How to build a warrior mindset

SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.

Videos
  • The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
  • Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
  • Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Keep reading Show less

How COVID-19 will change the way we design our homes

Pandemic-inspired housing innovation will collide with techno-acceleration.

Maja Hitij/Getty Images
Coronavirus
COVID-19 is confounding planning for basic human needs, including shelter.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast