If you’re a Hubble Space Telescope fan, odds are you will REALLY be a Webb fan. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), previously known as the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), is in the assembly phase. The Webb team is targeting a 2018 launch date. Webb offers several (forgive the pun) astronomical advances over the Hubble. For starters, the aperture, or eye through which the telescope looks into the universe, will be about five times larger than the Hubble’s. Webb will also be parked in a gravitationally stable point in space called the Lagrange Point two, or L2, that will always keep the Earth and the sun to its back — so not only will it be technologically able to see farther into the universe, but the light pollution from the sun will be minimized by keeping Webb in the shadow of the Earth.
Big things are expected from Webb after the phenomenal breakthroughs of Hubble and the many other telescopes of its generation. This great video gives you the current status of Webb assembly and a special look into those gold-coated giant aperture mirrors.
I know I’m excited to learn what this instrument can see. What kind of galactic snapshots would you like to see Webb uncover?