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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Webb in Space
Hugh Bollinger

Webb in Space


Launched James Webb telescope above Earth (credit: ESA/NASA)


The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) blasted off from its tropical rainforest launching pad as a beautiful wrapped holiday gift. The $10 billion, 3-story tall, replacement for the smaller Hubble telescope, the Webb carries optics 100 times more powerful than it predecessor. The huge device is a Rubics cube of parts all folded-up together like origami puzzle so it could fit inside the rocket. 

The European Space Agency's Ariane rocket blasted away from their spaceport in French Guiana, its 4-stages separated like clockwork, and the telescope moved itself away from the last stage far above the Earth. The solar power panels then opened as programmed and began charging the telescopes batteries. The photovoltaic array will power the device onwards to its stationary position 1 million miles from Earth. A sun shade the size of a tennis court will need to unfold correctly. The shield keep the Webb's instruments super-cold so all the infrared sensors can peer into the origins of the universe back to the Big Bang. Before any of that can happen, every one of the telescopes 300-odd unfolding steps must work perfectly for the telescope to function.

              James Webb Space Telescope assembly (credit: JPL) & JWST launch, 12-25-2021 (credit ESA/NASA)

NASA has produced a video on the goals of this massive international science project. Happy Holidays now and for the upcoming days of this new space adventure. WHB


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