After three postponements, the Ariane 5 rocket flew into space this Saturday, December 25 from the Guyanese space center in Kourou. It takes with it the most powerful James Webb space telescope ever made, which now has one month to reach its final orbit.
The Ariane 5 rocket flew into space this Saturday, December 25! Only the capricious weather left in doubt when the rocket took off from the Guyanese space center in Kourou. But in the end it did not. From the Guyanese space center, Ariane 5 takes with it the James Webb space telescope, awaited for thirty years by astronomers around the world to examine the Universe with unparalleled means. The launch was expected given that it has been postponed three times since last October.
A “deluge” of 30 tons of water per second triggered under the ignition engines allowed its departure this Saturday at 1.20 pm. After 26 minutes of space travel, the instrument weighing more than 6 tons was separated from the rocket. It will now take a month for the Webb telescope to reach its destination in solar orbit, about a million kilometers from Earth, about four times the distance of our planet from the Moon. It will then become the most advanced instrument for observing the cosmos ever sent into space. With the ambition to shed more light on humanity on two questions that torment it: “Where do we come from?” and “Are we alone in the Universe?”.
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James Webb is a revolutionary $ 9 billion instrument. This instrument, the most powerful ever made, will succeed the legendary Hubble. Manufactured by NASA since 2004 with the collaboration of European and Canadian space agencies, it should make it possible to observe the first galaxies that appeared after the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago. But also observe exoplanets or the formation of stars of which astronomers are discovering more and more specimens, to perhaps identify other Earths one day.
According to astronomers, it will provide access to information about the cosmos hitherto unobtainable. Unlike its predecessor, the 30-year-old Hubble Space Telescope, which circles the earth, Webb will be placed in the same orbit as the earth around the sun. It is also 100 times more sensitive than its predecessor. It is possible to follow the telescope’s journey live on the NASA website.
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