Explainer: Comparing Two Space Telescopes


On December 25, the brand new James Webb Space Telescope launched into house from South America on a European Ariane 5 rocket.

“[countdown from 10 in French, continued in English] Lift off! From a tropical rainforest to the edge of time itself, James Webb begins a voyage back to the birth of the universe.”

NASA and the European Space Agency’s Hubble telescope has been circling the Earth for practically 32 years. Webb is broadly seen as the subsequent era telescope.

Experts lately spoke with The Associated Press in regards to the variations between the 2 telescopes. But when speaking with scientists of astronomy, don’t ask them to choose a favourite.

“Comparing Hubble and Webb is like asking if you love your second child as much as your first,” mentioned Susan Mullally. She is Webb’s assistant mission scientist on the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland within the United States.

“Hubble will always be loved for its awe-inspiring images of our universe and will continue to collect important data for astronomers.” But the Webb telescope, Mullally provides, will allow us to see locations within the universe by no means earlier than seen. The Webb telescope is larger and 100 instances extra highly effective than Hubble.

In 1990, the Hubble caught a journey to its orbit inside NASA’s house shuttle Discovery. For Webb, the NASA website explains that it was useful for the launch to be close to the equator as a result of “…the spin of the Earth can help give an additional push.”

Location and issues in house

Hubble circles 530 kilometers overhead. That distance was decided by the talents of NASA’s house shuttles. When issues occurred on Hubble, floor management specialists and astronauts have been in a position to repair them.

However, this won’t be the case with Webb. Webb is heading to a way more distant spot — 1.6 million kilometers away. If it runs into issues, will probably be by itself.

All the sunshine we see

Webb is predicted to report gentle from the universe’s first stars and galaxies. This is past the talents of Hubble. This gentle will present us how the unique stars regarded 13.7 billion years in the past.

Hubble has regarded again so far as 13.4 billion years. Astronomers need to shut that 300 million 12 months gap with Webb. This will come ever nearer in time to the Big Bang, the second the universe fashioned 13.8 billion years in the past.

Infrared imaginative and prescient

Hubble sees what we see — seen gentle.

Webb has infrared imaginative and prescient, so it may well see gentle that’s invisible to the Hubble. It can see via clouds of house mud. The shorter seen and ultraviolet gentle given off by the primary stars and galaxies have been stretched because the universe grows. So, Webb will see them of their infrared kind, which is stretched out and giving off warmth.

Webb’s detectors have to run at minus 240 levels Celsius. To keep this chilly, Webb carries an “umbrella” the scale of a tennis courtroom. Between every of the sunshield’s 5 layers is a gap so warmth can escape out the perimeters.

Larger mirror

To see the universe’s first stars, Webb wants the biggest mirror ever launched for astronomy.

The Webb mirror is greater than 6.5 meters. Hubble’s is 2.4 meters throughout. However, Webb’s mirror is lighter as a result of it’s made from beryllium, a robust however light-weight metallic.

Production and prices

The Hubble and Webb do have issues in frequent: Production of each have been years late and overbudget.

NASA’s value for Hubble from its Nineteen Seventies improvement till now’s about $16 billion, adjusted for inflation. That doesn’t embrace all of the shuttle flights for launch and repairs.

Webb’s price ticket is an estimated $10 billion. That contains the primary 5 years of operation. The European Space Agency is paying for the launch prices.

I’m Anna Matteo.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely chargeable for all content material.


Words in This Story

tropical – adj. of or occurring within the tropics

astronomy – n. the scientific examine of stars, planets, and different objects in outer house : astronomer – n. an individual who’s a specialist in astronomy

awe-inspiring – adj. that arouses awe or surprise

spin – v. to show or trigger somebody or one thing to show round repeatedly

galaxy – n. any of the very massive teams of stars and related matter which might be discovered all through the universe

infrared – adj. producing or utilizing rays of sunshine that can not be seen and which might be longer than rays that produce purple gentle

imaginative and prescient – n. the act or energy of seeing

ultraviolet – adj. used to explain rays of sunshine that can not be seen and which might be barely shorter than the rays of violet gentle

detector – n. a tool that may inform if a substance or object is current

mirror – n. a chunk of glass that displays photos

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