NASA Delays Launch Of New James Webb Space Telescope After ‘Incident’ | Scientific and technological news
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NASA has delayed the launch of its new James Webb Space Telescope following an “incident” affecting its connection to the rocket.
The $ 10 billion (£ 7.5 billion) telescope is an orbiting infrared observatory that will deliver next-generation discoveries based on the work of the Hubble Space Telescope.
But its launch from the Guyanese Space Center in French Guiana – the European Space Agency’s base of operations – is now postponed to December 22 at the earliest.
NASA said: “The incident occurred during operations at the satellite readiness facility in Kourou, French Guiana, carried out under the overall responsibility of Arianespace.
“The technicians were preparing to attach Webb to the launcher adapter, which is used to integrate the observatory into the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket.
“A sudden and unplanned release of a clamp band – which secures Webb to the launcher’s adapter – caused a vibration throughout the observatory,” the space agency added.
A NASA-led anomaly review committee has investigated what has happened since, and a further update is expected when testing ends at the end of this week.
This follows further delays and additional expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to NASA.
The goal is for the Orbiting Telescope to succeed both the Hubble Space Telescope which was launched in 1990 – and expected to be in service until 2040 – and the Spitzer Telescope which was launched in 2003.
When the launch takes place, it will herald a new era in space science and offer NASA the opportunity to release new images such as those captured by Hubble that have inspired the imaginations of so many.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is intended to “examine every phase of cosmic history: from the first bright gleams after the Big Bang, to the formation of galaxies, stars and planets to the evolution of our system. solar ”.
By examining infrared light, the JWST will directly observe a part of space and time (which are not distinct qualities according to special relativity) that humanity has never been able to see before.
He will look deep into the past, when the very first stars formed over 13.5 billion years ago – for he is able to see the light emitted at the time that was stretched out or “redshifted” by the continuous expansion of the universe.
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The JWST is the largest and most powerful space telescope ever built by NASA, and after its launch it will orbit approximately one million kilometers from Earth before undergoing six months of commissioning in the ‘space.
During that time, its mirrors and sunshade will unfold, and its small systems will also need to come online – they will need to be cooled, aligned and calibrated.
Once all of this is done, astronomers around the world will be able to use the telescope to make scientific observations and expand humanity’s understanding of the universe.
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