NASA’s James Webb Telescope Opens Its ‘Golden Eye’ In Space

By: | January 11th, 2022

Image courtesy: NASA

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful space telescope ever built, was launched on Dec.25 last year. Webb space telescope is about 100 times more powerful than its predecessor, Hubble.

Webb should reach its observing spot, ‘Lagrange point 2 (L2)’ 1 million miles (1.6 million km) away in two weeks. Moving at a quarter of a mile per second in space, it is already more than 1 million km from Earth since its Christmas Day launch.

The US$10 billion James Webb Space Telescope opened its huge, gold-plated, flower-shaped wings last Saturday in the final stage of its deployment since launch. Scientists call it Webb’s ‘golden eye’.

Webb’s primary mirror spans 21-foot (6.5-meter) across

The mirror is made up of 18 gold-coated hexagonal sections that fit together like a mosaic.  Each section of the mirror is made of beryllium, a sturdy and cold-resistant metal, coated with an ultra-thin layer of gold, highly reflective of infrared light.

Because the telescope was so large, it had to be folded origami-style to fit into the rocket that soared to space two weeks ago.

If all continues to go well, it will begin observations this summer

Once fully operational, Webb will explore every phase of cosmic history – from within the solar system to the most distant observable galaxies formed 13.7 billion years ago.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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