New Launch Date Dec 25: Before It Can #UnfoldTheUniverse, Look Into #BigBang, James Webb, Wrapped Like A Butterfly, Needs To Unfurl; Check Details

New Delhi: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, also known as JWST or Webb — which is so powerful it can observe the first galaxies born after Big Bang 14 billion years ago — will now launch on December 25, postponed again by a day because of inclement weather.

JWST will ride an Ariane 5 rocket operated by Arianespace from Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

An international effort by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), work on JWST began in 1996. Years behind schedule and costing several billions more than originally planned, the $10-billion JWST is the most powerful telescope ever bult and will peer farther into space and time than any other telescope.

But before JWST can #UnfoldTheUniverse, the giant telescope, wrapped like a butterfly inside the Ariane rocket, has to unfurl successfully, which will be “the most complex sequence of deployments ever attempted in a single space mission”, NASA said.

Its folded gold-tinted mirrors, tennis court-sized sunshield and other critical parts have to unfold successfully before it can begin its mission of looking at the origins of life, and the dawn of time and space.

The telescope will be cooled by a five-layer sunshield the size of a tennis court, folded up for launch. In space, it must unfold successfully without any hitch.

The side facing the sun, temperatures will be 260 degrees Fahrenheit. Other side, it will be -390 degrees, a 600-degree temperature differential, which is equivalent to a sun protection factor, or SPF, of about 1 million.

Some JWST factoids from

* It will observe the birthplaces of planets, stars and galaxies

* Named after James Webb, NASA’s second administrator

* Three-stories high, size of a tennis court

* Largest telescope ever sent to space

* 100 times more powerful than Hubble

* It is so big it has been folded to fit inside a rocket

* Webb’s mirrors are coated with a super thin layer of gold

* Webb will orbit the Sun at 1 million miles from Earth

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