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September 8, 2021

The James Webb Space Telescope, which astronomers hope will usher in a new era of discovery, will launch on December 18, NASA announced on Wednesday.

The $ 10 billion observatory, a joint venture between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, will launch on an Ariane 5 rocket from the spaceport in French Guiana.

It is currently being stowed at contractor Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., Awaiting shipment. “Webb is an exemplary mission that is the epitome of perseverance,” said Gregory Robinson, director of the NASA program from Webb.

“We are very honored to orbit NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope with Ariane, a first for Arianespace and the European space team,” added Stephane Israel, CEO of Arianespace.

With the space telescope, the largest and most powerful ever built, researchers want to look back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies that formed a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. </ A key feature is its ability to detect infrared, because by the time the light from the first objects reaches our telescopes it has shifted towards the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum due to the expansion of the universe.

Astronomers also hope that the James Webb Space Telescope will accelerate the discovery of alien worlds.

The first planets orbiting other stars were discovered in the 1990s and there are now more than 4,000 confirmed exoplanets.

© 2021 AFP

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