Following a recent incident that could have resulted in a significant delay to the James Webb Space Telescope’s launch schedule, NASA Jobs has delivered good news on the telescope’s health.
The most powerful space telescope ever built experienced a scare earlier this month when a clamp band used to secure Webb to the launch vehicle adapter suddenly released while the spacecraft was being attached to the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket at the launch site in French Guiana.
The unexpected event caused a vibration to pass through the observatory, which engineers feared could have damaged some components. Following extensive testing, NASA reported on Wednesday that the observatory and spacecraft jobs are in good condition, allowing it to stick to the most recently announced launch date of December 22.
“A NASA-led anomaly review board concluded no observatory components were damaged in the incident,” the space agency said in a post on its website. “A ‘consent to fuel’ review was held, and NASA gave the approval to begin fueling the observatory. Fueling operations will begin Thursday, November 25, and will take about 10 days.”
NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency collaborated to create the James Webb Space Telescope. When it is launched, it will begin exploring deep space in the hopes of learning more about our solar system and beyond. “Webb will reveal new and unexpected discoveries, and help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it,” NASA said.
The telescope is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been exploring the universe and sending back incredible images since 1990.
There are a number of key differences between the two observatories. As per NASA: “Webb will primarily look at the universe in the infrared, while Hubble studies it primarily at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths (though it has some infrared capability). Webb also has a much bigger mirror than Hubble. This larger light-collecting area means that Webb can peer farther back into time than Hubble is capable of doing. Hubble is in a very close orbit around the earth, while Webb will be 932,000 miles (1.5 million km) away.”
The video below compares the sizes of Webb and Hubble’s mirrors. Check out the massive sunshield beneath Webb’s mirror, which is said to be the size of a tennis court. In its open state, the Webb observatory jobs is too large to fit into the nose cone of a rocket. The solution was to create a foldable design that would unfold once in space. With NASA’s announcement of good news about the James Webb Space Telescope, we can now look forward to the launch in just a few weeks. Check back closer to the launch date for more information on watching a livestream of the launch.