The James Webb Space Telescope: A Modern Day Adventure

On December 25, 2021, NASA launched one of its Great Observatories, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). As the largest and most powerful space telescope ever created, it has the ability to capture images from Mars and beyond. NASA reports that the telescope is “as tall as a 3-story building and as long as a tennis court” and is “so big that it has to fold origami-style to fit inside the rocket to launch.” 

The unprecedented space telescope’s original launch date was way back in 2010 when various agencies predicted it would cost about 1 billion dollars to complete.  It took ten times that amount of money and eleven more years; however, the JWST is ready for action, and scientists are ready to collect as much data as possible from this valuable resource.

Global Cooperation Inspired The Mission

Where is this enormous telescope headed? Launched from French Guiana because of the partnership between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, the plan is for the James Webb Space Telescope to head nearly a million miles away from Earth. It will unfold its various components on its own over the next several weeks. 

On December 28th, its sunshield unfolded over a period of four hours. NASA reminds us that “Temperatures on the Sun/hot side of the sunshield will reach a maximum of approximately 383K or approximately 230 degrees F and on the cold mirror/instruments side of the sunshield, a minimum of approximately 36K or around -394 degrees F.” This enormous and revolutionary sunshield is an essential component to the proper functioning and protection of the space telescope.  

But unfolding and activating the sunshield is not the end of the telescope’s preparation to provide the important data international space agencies are hoping for. Many different components have to be deployed and activated before the real action begins.

Interested In This Once In A Lifetime Event? Follow Along At Home!

Named after James E. Webb, administrator of NASA from 1961 to 1968, international space agencies’ plan for the JWST is for it to explore and provide information anywhere from 5 to 10 years, with its general purpose as an observatory. Because of its state-of-the-art instruments, the European Space Agency lists the JWST’s mission objectives as “to shed light on our cosmic origins: it will observe the Universe’s first galaxies, reveal the birth of stars and planets, and look for exoplanets with the potential for life.” 

As the mission progresses, we will continue to follow along here on the Excel High School blog. We’re so excited to begin seeing the images sent back from this amazing piece of technology. For the first time in human history, mankind will be able to look back in time, to the origins of the Universe! We’re excited to share this exciting journey with you!

To keep track of the space telescope’s timeline on your own or with your family, NASA has provided an online tool for anyone to follow. It’s no secret that a strong foundation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics offers young students a great pathway toward successful careers, maybe even working on projects like the James Webb Space Telescope!  If you want to enhance your student’s exposure to the world of STEM, take advantage of these activities from NASA related to the JWST that will enhance your students lessons and peak their interest in these promising careers. 

Excel High School also offers many STEM courses that students can take as individual enrichment courses or as full-time students with the school. With courses such as Introduction to Tech Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Astronomy, students can investigate their individual interests in STEM fields. With twelve months to complete a full credit, these exploratory elective courses are a safe way for students to learn about their interests before heading off to college or a career. If you are interested in any of these course offerings, feel free to call us at 800-620-3844 or easily enroll online today.

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