The James Webb Space Telescope’s Long Journey

Everything is huge in this project: the telescope will be in an orbit of 1.5 million km from Earth (at the Lagrangian point L2, where the gravity of the Earth and the Sun cause the telescope to maintain a fixed position relative to these two celestial bodies). It has an astronomical mirror as wide as a tennis court and scientific instruments capable of exploring the far reaches of the universe.

Hubble’s successor is the result of more than 20 years of technological advancement and a partnership between the Canadian Space Agency, NASA and the European Space Agency.

Canadian researchers have developed a scientific instrument aimed at studying exoplanets and distant galaxies: NIRISS or Near Infrared Imaging Spectrophotometer.

Isabelle Bourgogne talks about the space telescope and the flight he will soon be making with:

Where will our guests be before Christmas, when the telescope is launched from Kourou base in French Guiana? Is it true that we will not be able to fix it at this distance of one and a half million kilometers? What will he be able to see that the previous space telescope couldn’t?

One of Hubble’s missions was to see farther into the universe. One difference with James-Webb is that the latter can see in the infrared, allowing him to go back in time, to the early ages of the universe, at the time of the formation of the first galaxies. And the other aspect, which we did not think was possible 20 years ago, is exoplanets: James Webb can detect the atmospheres of some “small” planets and assess their chemical composition.

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What is the order TRAPPIST-1 – a red dwarf of at least seven planets – and what could be the contribution of the new telescope to this parade not far from us – 40 light-years – that attracts the attention of many astronomers.

And is it true that we have to be patient, because the first observations won’t happen until six months after launch, which is the time to calibrate all the devices?

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I vote for science Broadcast on Mondays at 1 pm on five regional stations from VM راديو Radio. Managed by Isabelle Bourgogne. Look for this offer: Isabelle Bourgogne. You can also listen to us, among others, on CIBO (Senneterre), CFOU (Trois-Rivières), CIAX (Windsor), and CHOM (Toronto).

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Photo: The telescope’s giant mirror, designed to fold like origami, so it can fit aboard an Ariane rocket. / July 10, 2019 / Chris Jean / NASA

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