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Webb Telescope Will Unmask Untold Mysteries of the Universe

NASA’s new telescope contains revolutionary technology that will explore every phase of cosmic history – from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe, to everything in between. The James Webb Space Telescope will reveal new and unexpected discoveries and help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it.

The telescope launched on December 25th on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, South America.

A joint effort with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, the Webb observatory is NASA’s revolutionary flagship mission to seek the light from the first galaxies in the early universe and to explore our own solar system, as well as planets orbiting other stars, called exoplanets.

Webb, a partnership with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, will explore every phase of cosmic history – from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe.

“The James Webb Space Telescope represents the ambition that NASA and our partners maintain to propel us forward into the future,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The promise of Webb is not what we know we will discover; it’s what we don’t yet understand or can’t yet fathom about our universe. I can’t wait to see what it uncovers!”

The world’s largest and most complex space science observatory will now begin six months of commissioning in space. At the end of commissioning, Webb will deliver its first images. The telescope carries four state-of-the-art science instruments with highly sensitive infrared detectors of unprecedented resolution. Webb will study infrared light from celestial objects with much greater clarity than ever before. The premier mission is the scientific successor to NASA’s iconic Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, built to complement and further the scientific discoveries of these and other missions.

A rare view of the James Webb Space Telescope face-on, from the NASA Goddard cleanroom observation window.
The OTE (Optical Telescope Element) Simulator or OSIM wrapped in a silver blanket on a platform, being lowered down into a vacuum chamber (called the Space Environment Simulator, or SES) by a crane to be tested to withstand the cold temperatures of space.
Just like drivers sometimes use snow to clean their car mirrors in winter, two Exelis Inc. engineers are practicing “snow cleaning'” on a test telescope mirror for the James Webb Space Telescope. By shooting carbon dioxide snow at the surface, engineers are able to clean large telescope mirrors without scratching them. The snow-like crystals (carbon dioxide snow) knock contaminate particulates and molecules off the mirror.
What happens when the lights are turned out in the enormous clean room that housed NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope? The technicians who inspected the telescope and its expansive golden mirrors look like ghostly wraiths in this image as they conduct a “lights out inspection.” The contamination control engineer used a bright flashlight and special ultraviolet flashlights to inspect for contamination because it’s easier to find in the dark.
The James Webb Space Telescope’s Engineering Design Unit (EDU) primary mirror segment, coated with gold by Quantum Coating Incorporated. The actuator is located behind the mirror. The Space Telescope is a wonder of modern engineering. As the planned successor to the Hubble Space telescope, even the smallest of parts on this giant observatory will play a critical role in its performance.
Support structures wrapped in gold thermal blankets that look like a golden cage. The structure is housed within the vacuum chamber called the Space Environment Simulator, or SES. The SES is located at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.
ESA (European Space Agency) Director-General Dr. Josef Aschbacher, left, and NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, right, watch as Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket launches with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope onboard on Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, from the ELA-3 Launch Zone of Europe’s Spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.
Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket launches with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope onboard.

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