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Nasa’s James Webb telescope heads for 1.5mn-km voyage

Nasa’s James Webb telescope heads for 1.5mn-km voyage

The world’s most powerful space telescope on Saturday blasted off into orbit, headed to an outpost 1.5mn-km (930,000 miles) from Earth, after several delays caused by technical hitches. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), some three decades and billions of dollars in the making, left Earth enclosed in its Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou Space Centre in French Guiana. After a 27-minute, hypersonic ride into space, the 14,000-pound (6,350kg) instrument was released from the upper stage of the French-built rocket about 1,392km above the Earth, and should gradually unfurl to nearly the size of a tennis court over the next 13 days as it sails onward on its own. It is expected to take a month to reach its remote destination. It is expected to beam back new clues that will help scientists understand more about the origins of the universe and Earth-like planets beyond our solar system. Named after a former Nasa director, Webb follows in the footsteps of the legendary Hubble - but intends to show humans what the universe looked like even closer to its birth nearly 14 billion years ago. Speaking on social media, Webb project co-founder John Mather described the telescope’s unprecedented sensitivity. “#JWST can see the heat signature of a bumblebee at the distance of the Moon,” he said. All that power is needed to detect the weak glow emitted billions of years ago by the very first galaxies to exist and the first stars being formed. The telescope is unequalled in size and complexity. Its mirror measures 6.5m in diameter - three times the size of the Hubble’s mirror - and is made of 18 hexagonal sections. This is a modal window. Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window. End of dialog window. This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button. It is so large that it had to be folded to fit into the rocket. That manoeuvre was laser-guided with Nasa imposing strict isolation measures to limit any contact with the telescope’s mirrors from particles or even human breath..

world-news 2021-12-29 hindustantimes