the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched, scheduled for December 22, has been delayed at least two days, so that this observatory was considered Hubble’s successorIt will not be sent into space until Friday, December 24.
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The new delay is due to a communication problem between the observatory and the launch vehicle system, according to the website of US space agency (NASA)It is confident it will be able to provide new information about the launch before December 17th.
The James Webb Space Telescope, named after a former NASA official, will be the world’s largest space science observatory upon launch, capable of surveying hitherto inaccessible worlds and exploring the origins of our solar system.
This joint mission between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency will be launched into space from the European Spaceport in French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket that has been secured to the telescope this weekend.
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The launch of the telescope, which was scheduled to enter orbit in the spring of 2019, has been postponed at least three more times. The new delay was confirmed today at a press conference by some of the key ESA scientists involved in the mission who preferred not to dwell on the topic so as not to raise speculation.
Catarina Alves de Oliveira, ESA scientist at Webb’s NIRSpec instrument, explained that the telescope has been tested for a long time and that many experiments have been carried out to ensure that everything will go smoothly, from launch to deployment already in orbit.
“There are very important and ambitious parts to the whole process” but James Webb is “ready to deploy to space and later, when he’s in orbit” we will proceed very slowly, without risk. We always stop before every big step to make sure everything is going right We will be in constant contact with him.”
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Although the team has rigorously tested the telescope, when it detaches from the rocket and begins its journey toward the orbit in which it will operate over the next few years, James Webb will go through a complex process to unfold in various stages and release the sunvisor, antenna, and instruments that were equipped with it.
“It is a very tried and tested process that we will all be familiar with,” explained Macarena García Marin, ESA scientist to develop, support and calibrate MIRI/JWST. When the telescope starts operating, it will conduct part of its observations outside the solar system. And Alves de Oliveira explained that exoplanets, for example, would be one of the pillars of this mission.
“In the first year of observations, the web – which has received more than a thousand research proposals from scientific teams from around the world – will dedicate 20-25% of its observation time to studying about 60 or 70 exoplanets.
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“We want to know what they are made of, and what they have in the atmosphere, and for this Webb will allow us to make very precise observations that will help us know the composition and the molecules that are on these planets, and this is only the first year.”
Within the solar system, the telescope will study extraterrestrial planets, such as gas giants and icy planets, but above all it will focus a lot on observing the atmosphere and structure of those planets.
“Webb will give us the details,” said Macarena Garcia Marin, a European Space Agency (ESA) scientist to develop, support and calibrate MIRI/JWST. Of course, in comparison with Hubble, the new telescope has a drawback: it cannot be repaired, in fact, it was not designed for this, ESA scientists explained.
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However, all electronic systems have redundant states called “side A and side B,” as Macarena Garcia pointed out, so that “whenever there are anomalies, we can deal with them by going to side B, ensuring that you can continue to use the tools.”
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