The First Data from the James Webb Space Telescope

December 21, 2021

The largest telescope in history launched on Christmas Day, paving the way for a golden era in space discovery.

But first, the James Webb Space Telescope must journey 1.5 million kilometres, performing flawlessly under 30 days of extreme pressure.

It is the most complicated space activity ever attempted, and Webb will have no room for error as it tackles 344 individual fail-points, any of one which could kill the mission.

So, what’s worth the terror?

A breathtaking look at every corner of our universe, from distant planets to the very first stars and galaxies.

Webb can see so far away that the furthest light has been travelling for billions and billions of years–right back to the early universe.

Closer to home, it can capture the light reflected off the atmospheres of distant exoplanets, worlds orbiting faraway stars.

By analysing the patterns in their light, scientists can identify elements like oxygen or even water vapour in their atmospheres.

The secret to Webb’s amazing vision? It’s doesn’t see in visible light. Instead, it sees in infrared, wavelengths too long for us to see with human eyes.

In the infrared, light can travel straight though dust clouds, allowing us to see the objects behind them.

Featured image credit: NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez

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