31May2015

James Webb Space T/scope To Go 13.5 Billion Years Back In Time

This rendering of the James Webb Space Telescope is current to 2015. Upon request we can provide a high-resolution image without a background. (Northrop Grumman)

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will eventually provide amazing space images and look far back into time. For now, it’s under construction in Redondo Beach.

The Hubble space telescope has been eyeballing the universe for the past 25 years, uncovering sites that are literally out of this world. But Hubble’s successor is getting ready to take the spotlight. The James Webb Space Telescope is being built in Northrop Grumman’s Redondo Beach facility.

“What we think about 100 times better than Hubble, that’s pretty spectacular,” said Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, who got to tour the Redondo Beach plant. Part of the tour included an up-close look at a test version of the telescope’s huge five-layer sun shield. It’s all part of a project to look deep into our universe’s past.

“It’s a time machine. We’re building optics sensitive enough to look 13.5 billion years back in time,” said Scott Willoughby, who works on the telescope. According to NASA’s website dedicated to the JWST, the “longer wavelengths enable Webb to look further back in time to find the first galaxies that formed in the early universe.”

A NASA video shows that the Webb will set up shop one million miles away from Earth.  “As a reference point, the moon is 250,000 miles from Earth. We’re going four times the distance of the moon,” Willoughby explained.

The Hubble, by comparison, is only around 350 miles away. Also, the Webb dwarfs the Hubble, allowing humans to spy not just stars but other planets and maybe even find other forms of life. “People used to dream about this stuff, and science fiction writers used to write about it. It really is true, and we can see this. We can realize it,” Bolden said.  ABC 7 News

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