Modern Physics

James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will launch in March 2021, replace the Hubble Space Telescope and be 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

Since the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990, studies related to Astronomy have made significant advances. Through Hubble’s lens, science had the opportunity to observe collisions between comets , planets outside the Solar System, a large number of black holes , an abundance of galaxies , etc.

With the interest of advancing in studies concerning the origins of the Universe, NASA , the North American space agency, will launch the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the replacement for the Hubble telescope. Scheduled for launch in March 2021, JWST is an $8.8 billion project that promises to be 100 times more powerful than its predecessor.

Features of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

1. It has a mirror for capturing images about 2.5 times larger than that of Hubble;

2. It will be positioned at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth, at a point where the gravity of the Sun and the Earth cancels out . The Hubble telescope is just 600 km from Earth;

3. The huge distance between the JWST and Earth will make it impossible for missions to carry out possible repairs. Manned trips that have a range of 1.5 million km are not possible;

4. The JWST will capture infrared radiation emitted by various bodies in space. For that, it will have to avoid the interference of the infrared radiation produced by itself, by the Sun , by the Moon and by the Earth. To make this possible, the JWST will operate at a temperature of -233 °C (50 K);

5. The accuracy of the JWST is so great that it would be possible to observe an insect in lunar territory!

6. The following animation shows how the JWST will deploy into space after launch aboard a rocket. The mirror made with gold-plated panels will be folded to occupy the rocket.

James Webb

James Edwin Webb ran NASA between 1961 and 1968. The Apollo project, which culminated in man going to the moon in 1969 , was designed and developed during Webb’s administration. James E. Webb died in March 1992, at the age of 85.


Through the images captured by the JWST, NASA hopes to scour the cosmos in search of the origin of the Universe. With the powerful lens, it is expected to find and analyze the atmosphere of exoplanets, visualize the formation of stars and galaxies and gain access to images never taken before. The telescope’s scan of space will seek the detection of infrared waves, radiation that is outside the visible spectrum and, therefore, is not naturally detected by the human eye. The possibilities of images and discoveries are so diverse that Michel Shara, curator of the Department of Astrophysics at the US Museum of Natural History, said that, given the countless possibilities, the next few years will be the best time to become an astronomer.

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