Scheduled to launch in October 2018, the Webb telescope (named after NASA’s second director James Webb) is the next most exciting news for the future of space exploration.
As good as the Hubble telescope has been, the Webb telescope will hopefully address some of the short comings of Hubble.
Although its mass is half of that of the Hubble telescope, the Webb telescope’s mirrors will collect five times as much light as the Hubble. The Hubble is only 350 miles from Earth, whereas the Webb will be 930,000 miles from Earth.
The Hubble can only detect visible and near infrared frequencies, compared to Webb, which can detect infrared frequencies, allowing the Webb to see more distant light sources.
With an estimated cost of 9 billion dollars and the inability to fix the telescope once it is launched (due to the distance from Earth) there is, understandably, immense pressure on NASA engineers. God knows how often they will be checking the telescope’s mirrors for any imperfection. How many back-up plans have been orchestrated in case a mirror is miss-aligned during the journey?
Just imagine, though, if we can see the first light from the Big Bang…the creation of our universe!
I, however, hope we can see a light significantly farther than what our predictions say (let’s say 30 billion light years away) and the light, given the distance, is so large, it can only come from….ANOTHER UNIVERSE!!!
We humans are pretty smart and capable of doing wonderful things. Our planet, however, is just a spec of sand on a beach when we look at our place in the universe. So should we be ignored? I hope we are not! Just listen to all the beautiful art and music we have produced. I can’t imagine any intelligent life out there enjoying the sound of chalk on a chalkboard! I believe music, like mathematics, has a universal language. Harsh harmonics will not sound good, no matter how one’s anatomy has evolved. Perhaps one day an advanced civilization will stumble upon our planet and be amazed by all the beauty (and unfortunately ugliness) we have created.
look forward to what the Webb telescope will discover. With that said, here is one of my all-time favorite classical pieces, synchronized to images taken with the Hubble telescope. Hopefully, one day, we can synchronize images of the Webb to this music!
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