The JWST is a space telescope developed by NASA, ESA, and CSA. The telescope is named after James E Webb, who was the administrator of NASA from 1961-68 and played an integral role in the Apollo space program. JWST was launched on 25 December 2021 from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana.
It is designed to provide improved infrared resolution and sensitivity over Hubble and will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology including observations of some of the most distant events and objects in the Universe such as the formation of the first galaxies, and allowing detailed atmospheric characterization of potentially habitable exoplanets.
JWST’s primary mirror is a 6.5 m (21 ft)-diameter gold-coated beryllium reflector with a collecting area of 25.4 m2 (273 sq ft). If it were built as a single large mirror, this would have been too large for existing launch vehicles. The mirror is therefore composed of 18 hexagonal segments which will unfold after the telescope is launched.
JWST will orbit the Sun near the second Lagrange point (L2) of the Earth-Sun system, which is 1,500,000 km (930,000 mi) further from the Sun than the Earth’s orbit, and about four times further than the moon’s orbit. Normally an object circling the Sun farther out than Earth would take longer than one year to complete its orbit. But near the L2 point, the combined gravitational pull of the Earth and the Sun allows a spacecraft to orbit the Sun in the same time that it takes the Earth. Staying close to Earth allows data rates to be much faster for a given size of the antenna.
Do you want to know where the JWST is right now ? Click here to find out.