Space Minute PSA Series #1: James Webb Telescope
With the launch of the Hubble telescope back in 1990, humankind was rewarded with spectacular images of our universe: rainbow-colored nebula, spiraling galaxies, and fields of newborn stars.
It’s hard to believe scientists can top that, but NASA is on target to launch an even larger and more powerful space telescope in 2018. The James Webb Space Telescope will be 100 times more powerful than Hubble and will be used to answer important questions about our universe, like…how galaxies formed and when and how those galaxies got supermassive black holes in their centers.
While Hubble collected only visible light to capture dramatic pictures of stars and galaxies, the James Webb telescope will collect both visible light and infrared radiation using 18 large mirrors housed behind a tennis-court-sized sun shield.
Besides provide clues to how the universe formed, maybe the most exciting thing for Earthlings is that the James Webb telescope will be sensitive enough to analyze the atmospheres of planets around other stars, looking for signs of life.
Captain Winston Scott is a retired U.S. Navy fighter pilot and astronaut who flew on two space shuttle missions and walked in space three times. He’s now an administrator and faculty member at the Florida Institute of Technology. More information on Space Minutes at wfit.org.