National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the US space agency has successfully completed the construction of the world’s largest space telescope after 20 years. The new telescope known as James Webb Space telescope is the successor of the famous Hubble Space telescope which is now 26 years old. According to China’s Xinhua news agency, NASA will launch Ariane 5 rocket to put the telescope in space. The rocket will launch from French Guiana in October 2018. John Mather, Webb’s senior project scientist and a Nobel laureate said during a news conference, “Today, we’re celebrating the fact that our telescope is finished and we’re about to prove that it works. The new telescope will open up a whole new territory of astronomy.” Mather added, “We will see things we have not seen before because this telescope is much more powerful than even the great Hubble telescope. To give you some perspective about what we can do with it. If you were a bumblebee at a distance of the moon, we will be able to see you, both by your reflective sunlight and by thermal radiation and heat you emitted.”
NASA said that the technicians and engineers have successfully finished the initial important optical measurement of Webb’s fully assembled primary mirror which is known as Centre of Curvature test which measures the shape of the mirror. The primary mirror of 6.5 meters and 18 hexagonal mirrors will have to go past many tests to see the effect of violent vibrations and sounds in the rocket environment when it goes into space. According to NASA, this telescope will observe far away objects in the Universe, click pictures of the first galaxies that were created and look for planets and stars still unexplored. The Webb is a $8.7 billion project by NASA but it also has been supported by the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.
Incidentally, this day also marks 16 years of astronauts being present at the International Space Station. NASA wrote on its website, “From 1998 to 2011, five different space agencies representing 15 countries assembled the International Space Station, the largest structure ever built in space. Today humans are still living and work in the orbital laboratory. November 2, 2016, marks the 16th anniversary of continuous human presence on board.” On November 2, 2000, in Expedition 1, Commander William Shepherd was seen with cosmonaut crewmates Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko, fist bumping and celebrating. NASA put out interactive gifs on its website.