NASA Just Finished its Massive New Space Telescope

After countless delays and going billions of dollars over budget, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is finally complete.

The JWST debuted at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center on Thursday.

The telescope’s primary mirror is currently the largest ever built. The 18 gold-plated hexagonal mirrors measure 21.3 feet across. When it launches in 2018, JWST will have 100 times more observing power of the Hubble telescope.

Construction of the telescopes protective sunshield also finished up. Once the sunshield undergoes testing, it and the mirror will be combined.

“Upon completion, Webb will be the largest and most complex space observatory that anyone on planet Earth has ever built,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden in a statement.

“It will capture the imagination and dreams of millions who dare to look to the sky and wonder.”

NASA originally wanted the project to launch in 2011 with the total cost reaching $1 billion. However, seven years later, the total cost comes to $8.7 billion. The project has been under construction for over 20 years.

The biggest risk upon JWST’s launch? The telescope can’t be fixed or serviced once in space, unlike Hubble.

NASA anticipates the launch to be in October 2018, and the telescope will be positioned beyond the orbit of the moon. From Lagrange point 2, it will have what astronomers hope to be a perfect view of the cosmos.

The JWST, normally mentioned as the successor to Hubble, will have infrared capabilities rather than simply visual. Its massive scale (nearly the size of a professional tennis court) will also give it better views of galaxies and even exoplanets we’ve never had before.

Via IFL Science

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