For years, the James Webb Space Telescope has been in the making. NASA, the European Space Agency  (ESA)  and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) collaborated on it. It will supersede the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s premier astrophysics mission.

It was launched on Ariane mission VA256 on December 25, 2021. The primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope is made up of 18 hexagonal mirror segments. Continue reading to know more about the James Webb Space Telescope.

James Webb Space Telescope UPSC Notes

Make notes from the sections below to better up your IELTS preparation.

Hubble’s Successor

The Webb Telescope is the Hubble Space Telescope’s long-awaited replacement. For years, the $9.7B telescope has been in the works. Over the course of its long existence, it has experienced several delays.

The Webb will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket, which has a track record of 82 successful missions between April 2003 and December 2017. The European Space Agency’s involvement in the project is the Ariane 5. The mission will take place in French Guiana, Europe’s spaceport. The true nerve-wracking will begin, according to several observers, when the telescope starts a month-long unfolding procedure, all the while moving farther and farther away from Earth.

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Goal of James Webb Space Telescope UPSC

Almost anything in the sky will be seen via the telescope. It does, however, have one overarching goal: to see the light emitted by the Universe’s very first stars.

About 100 to 200 M years after the Big Bang, or a little more than 13.5 billion years ago, these pioneer stars are expected to have turned on. Webb will separate these stars into groups.

Because they are so far away, even if their light travels at 300,000 kilometres (186,000 miles) every second, it will take billions of years for it to reach us. Webb should be able to see (or at the very least detect a faint light from) the instant when the darkness lifted and the first stars shone brightly.

Existing Space Telescopes Vs JWST

It dwarfs the Hubble Telescope, which has been circling the Earth since 1990.

Hubble’s main mirror is 2.4 metres (7.8 feet) broad, whereas this telescope’s primary mirror is 6.5 metres in diameter. Webb is roughly the size of a tennis court with all of the accompanying equipment. It’s so large that it has to be folded in order to fit inside its launcher rocket.

The important feature of Webb is that it is designed to detect light in the infrared, which Hubble cannot. This light is undetectable to the naked eye, yet it is the sort of light in which the radiance from the Universe’s furthest objects may be seen.

James Webb Space Telescope Launch Date

Webb is now expected to enter orbit on Saturday, December 25th, and is named after James E Webb, the Nasa administrator who directed the Apollo Moon-landing mission.

It will be deployed from French Guiana on an EU Ariane-5 rocket. The EU Space Agency has decided to take on the burden of putting Webb into space as a project partner. Webb is without a doubt the most precious payload ever carried by an Ariane. Fortunately, the rocket has a solid reputation for reliability.

The telescope will be launched roughly one million miles (1.6 million kilometres) from Earth by the rocket. It can make observations without the occasional obscuring effects that it would encounter if it were closer to our earth.

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Nasa invested $8.8 billion on Webb’s design and engineering, and it will invest another $860 million over the next 5 years to keep the mission running. This totals $9.7 billion in the United States.

The EU Space Agency contributed €700 million (£590 million) to the project, funding two of Webb’s four components as well as the Ariane launch rocket. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) also contributed over CA$200 million (£120 million). It all adds up to more than $10 billion (£7.5 billion; €9 billion; CA$12.7 billion).

10 Amazing Facts on James Webb Space Telescope

Check out these fascinating facts on this telescope:

# The biggest space telescope in history

# A golf-ball-sized amount of gold coats JWST’s mirrors

# Unlike Hubble, JWST will not be serviceable during its mission

# JWST can clearly see a single penny 24 miles away

# JWST will be able to detect water on exoplanets

# JWST will spot the first light ever created in the universe

# JWST will be folded up on its rocket and expand to its full size in space

# One side of the telescope is hotter than Death Valley, the other side is colder than Antarctica

# JWST’s science instruments will function at close to absolute zero

# JWST launches far, far away from home


This telescope is years overdue due to poor project management on multiple occasions. However, some of the funds were utilised to fund technological advancements that have broader applications; for example, a measuring instrument developed for Webb is now used in precision eye surgery.

To put things in perspective, Hubble has charged close to $15 billion in today’s money. Few would doubt its value after all of its accomplishments over the past 30 years, and the Webb telescope is expected to be no less transformational.

For more current affairs topics, visit the UPSC Pathshala website.

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About the Author

Madhurjya Chowdhury

Madhurjya Chowdhury, a web content writer in Ufaber EduTech has a very strong passion for writing and alluring the readers. You can find him writing articles for the betterment of exam aspirants and children. With immense interest in research-based content writing and copywriting, he likes to reach out to more and more people with his creative writing style. On the other side, he is an Electronics and Communication Engineer from LPU, Jalandhar. In his leisure time, he likes to play badminton or read about space discoveries. Apart from this, he is a pro gamer on PC, PS and Mobile gaming platforms.

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