January 17, 2022

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From Departure to Pictures, we tell you about the four stages of waiting for space travel.

Thirty-two years. This is the number of years between the idea of ​​building this super-powerful telescope in 1989 and its final launch into space scheduled for Saturday, December 25, excluding new unforeseen events. The James Webb Telescope (JWST), named after a former NASA executive, is considered the successor to the Hubble telescope. He must examine all the phases of the universe with unparalleled accuracy, from the first ages of the universe and the formation of the first galaxies.

Placed in orbit around the Sun at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, this latest generation space tracking device is an ambitious challenge. The result of 40 million hours of work carried out by 14 countries, this small technological gem, sometimes considered the most expensive, was almost in boxes. According to TV5 Monde.

Its release has been postponed several times due to technical or weather reasons. Nothing bigger than a private plane It should finally depart on Christmas day 1:20 to 1:52 p.m. Foundation From Grove, Guyana, Powered by the Ariane 5 rocket. A look at the four stages of this Titanic project.

1Frequent late departures

Will it really take a day? This is a slightly annoying question asked by American, European and Canadian scientists who have been working for more than 30 years to put this into orbit. In 2011, the first sand grain: the US Congress announced that it did not want to participate in the financing of the project, which is estimated at 10 billion euros, and in three years its price has tripled. But thanks to the mobilization of astronomers, this revolutionary telescope was rarely preserved.

Recent transportation from California by telescope boat To Kourou According to engineer and man responsible for converting Ariane 5 into a mission, this will not be easy. Quoted 20 minutes. 10,000 km journey through it The Panama Canal sent the telescope in a container specially designed to protect it from any contamination. Ambition? Above all, do not harm the quality of its future observations.

Other twists will delay the flight departure. Although it was postponed to March and September 2021, it was not until the end of December that Arianespace wanted to suspend its orbit schedule. Originally scheduled for December 18, the flight was postponed to the 22nd after an incident during preparations for departure, and finally confirmed to take off on the 24th. The reason for this new postponement? One “Communication problem between surveillance and launch system”, According to ArianeSpace Twitter account. Finally, “From Adverse weather “ The space company was forced to change again “Plane launches VA256 James Web Space Telescope” Until Saturday, December 25th.

2A puzzle to get into Ariane 5

Fitting the telescope to the Ariane 5 rocket may be the biggest challenge of this project. Large with its 6.5m glass, it is necessary to create folded glass that can be stored in a launcher like origami. For this, the The multi-billion euro telescope was suspended from a 40m high cable before being placed on top of the rocket.

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James Webb has a vision a hundred times more accurate than his predecessor, the Hubble. 18 small hexagonal mirrors are covered with gold to better reflect light in space. A large five-layer sun visor protects Glass and all tracking equipment. Built by Captain, this sun visor can withstand extreme temperatures close to the sun.

3 1.5 million kilometers traveled

The James Webb Telescope takes a month to reach its destination, and space travel can take five to ten years. The space telescope orbits the Sun at a fixed and almost unknown location in the universe: “The Lockrange Point L2”, 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. At this distance, and thanks to his infrared technology, James Webb will have three main tasks.

Will be the first Consider the formation of the first galaxies, Until the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. Accelerating the study of the second exoplanets dDetermining the composition of their atmosphere, their cloud cover and detecting the possible presence of water. Finally, the telescope is responsible for reading Discover the mystery and formation of giant black holes To better understand the formation of the solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune.

4 First pictures in June 2022?

After being launched from the Gayanis base in Gharo December 25 and thirty minutes of mandatory separation of the telescope from the rocket, with James Webb having about fifteen days to deploy his heat shield. In total, more than 200 algorithms should be implemented for the entire deployment at this time.

Upon completion of this delicate operation, The 6.5-ton telescope will travel another fifteen days and finally reach its parking lot at the Lockrange L2 point. Then it will be necessary Measuring the telescope and its surveillance equipment, it is in optimal working condition.

This phase is expected to last five months. If all goes as scientists imagined, the first data that could be used would come before June 2022.