Who are we? Why are we here? Where did we come from?
“Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing but a complete description of the universe that we live in.” (Dr. Hawking S.W.).
For many years the workings of greatest scientists have been fueled by the quest to try and come up with a model which explains the origin and fate of the universe. One of the major projects has been the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) which has been a great success since it began in 2004. The telescope is named after James E. Webb, who was the administrator of NASA from 1961 to 1968 and played an integral role in the Apollo program. It is intended to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship mission in astrophysics. The telescope was launched on 25th December 2021. Webb might give us a few answers since it will be able to see farther into our origins: from the formation of stars and planets, to the birth of the first galaxies in the early Universe
One of Webb’s original goals was to study galaxies like our own Milky Way. That is still the dream, partly because it’s such an ambitious goal. “We wanted a science rationale that would resist the test of time,” says Massimo Stiavelli. “We didn’t want to build a mission that would do something that gets done in some other way.” Stiavelli is an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute. He has been a leader on the James Webb Space Telescope project
It is designed to provide improved infrared resolution and sensitivity over Hubble, viewing objects up to 100 times fainter than the faintest objects detectable by Hubble. This will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology, such as observations up to redshift z≈20 of some of the oldest and most distant objects and events in the Universe (including the first stars and the formation of the first galaxies), and detailed atmospheric characterization of potentially habitable exoplanets.
The James Webb Space Telescope will not be in orbit around the Earth, like the Hubble Space Telescope is – it will actually orbit the Sun, 1.5 million kilometers (1 million miles) away from the Earth at what is called the second Lagrange point or L2. Wh around the Sun. This allows the satellite’s large sunshield to protect the telescope from the light and heat of the Sun and Earth (and Moon). After launch it is expected to reach L2 orbit; what is special about this orbit is that it lets the telescope stay in line with the Earth as it moves after 29 days.