The James Webb Space Telescope’s First Year of Extraordinary Science Has Been Revealed

Artist’s concept of the James Webb Space Telescope’s scientific capabilities. The infrared observatory’s large mirror will allow astronomers to search for the universe’s first galaxies and stars while also studying the atmospheres of nearby exoplanets. Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)

“Years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) often finds itself the butt of jokes. From satirical Webcomics to more scathing criticism, the flagship project of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency is an easy target. Yet many would argue that those delays and budget concerns are simply indicative of the telescope’s unprecedented scope and soaring ambitions. When it hopefully launches on October 31, it will be, by far, the largest and most sophisticated observatory ever sent into space. JWST will be poised to revolutionize our understanding of the universe from its lofty perch some 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, beyond the orbit of the moon. But what will the telescope actually do that justifies the decades of effort and expenditure to get it off the ground?”

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