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Web telescope gets double life thanks to European Ariane 5 rocket

Web telescope gets double life thanks to European Ariane 5 rocket

The first weeks of the James Webb Telescope are off to a good start. After launching it successfully December 25 Last year, technicians on the ground were able to make sure that the telescope’s bio-shield that will protect from the sun’s rays unfolded. A complex maneuver where many could have gone wrong.

January 8 The news came that the 6.5-meter telescope mirror, which was also packed during the launch, was folded and everything was fine.

To this must be added that The age of the telescope appears to be doubling from the 10 years that NASA calculated – at best – to 20. This is thanks to the European Ariane 5 rocket that launched the telescope from the Kourou space base in French Guiana.

According to NASA The Ariane 5 rocket succeeded in placing the telescope in such a precise orbit, toward the point in space where it would next start working, that no major adjustments to its orbit would be required. The fewer the adjustments, the less fuel is used, and the fuel that can then be used to make fine adjustments during the time the telescope will be operating.

NASA has already started A plan for expensive unmanned probes that would have been sent to the Web Telescope if their trajectory had to be adjusted in the future in the event the fuel runs out. Now this probably won’t be needed.

According to the head of the Ariane 5 program, Rudiger Albat, the success is due to the fact that only the best components were selected in the rocket. In an interview with the Interplanetary podcast, Albatt said they were particularly keen on taking the ingredients that have been tested the most and proven to be the best. The engine used in the selection of the rocket was also carefully selected:

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“It was one of the absolute best Vulcain engines we’ve made,” Albatt says in the interview.

It replaces the space telescope The Hubble Telescope, which for thirty years has provided scientists with data that changed the view of the universe but also with fascinating images that have been disseminated around the world.

The James Webb Telescope has a mirror two and a half times larger than its predecessor. Since the telescope is located outside of Earth’s disturbing atmosphere, the images sent back to Earth will give an unprecedented view of the universe.

Thanks to the telescope Light also collects in the infrared portion of the spectrum, and can see through gas clouds that have obscured the view to the farthest galaxies.

Another part of the mission is to study the so-called exoplanets, planets outside our solar system, especially if they have atmospheres that could present opportunities for life as we know it.