NASA's 'time machine' James Webb telescope to be launched in 2018

Published 26.11.2015 18:50
Updated 27.11.2015 17:55
This image made available by NASA on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 shows an artist's rendering of a solar storm hitting the planet Mars. (AP Photo)
This image made available by NASA on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 shows an artist's rendering of a solar storm hitting the planet Mars. (AP Photo)

Ever wondered what the galaxy looked like 200 millions years after the Big Bang? Well, with the new James Webb space telescope set to be launched in 2018 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), mankind will be able to 'go back in time' to see how some stars and galaxies we know today were formed.

The telescope is set to be the world's most powerful of its kind, leaving the Hubble telescope in the dust with a 100 times more power and 3 times larger mirrors.

Describing the new telescope as a 'time machine with infrared vision that will peer back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe,' NASA has surely piqued the curiosity of many people.

The JW Space Telescope will study every possible phase in the history of the universe, from the evolution of our solar system to the formation of other systems that are capable of supporting life on planets like our Earth and even alien life.

| Photo courtesy of NASA

Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope circling the Earth, the JWST telescope will go further into space, about 1.5 million km away from the Earth.

With 18 flight mirrors that have been already installed, the full installation of all mirrors will take several months and continue into early 2016, NASA announced this week.

The 18 separate segments will unfold and adjust to shape after the telescope's launch, and will be aligned precisely in order to see millons and millions of light-years away.

There is 17 more to go and they will form a single 21.3 ft (6.5 m) mirror, said NASA after it went live in the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland via web cam.

A team of astronauts on Nov 20 used a robotic arm to lower the hexagon-shaped mirror, which is 1.3 m in diameter and weighs about 40 kg thanks to being made from ultra-lightweight beryllium.

The edges pf the mirrors also have gold coating to help it reflect infrared light.

NASA had previously on Oct 29 broadcasted live coverage of a record-breaking spacewalk in the history of the International Space Station (ISS) via its website.

Scott Kelly, Commander of NASA's 45th expedition to the ISS, and flight engineer Kjell Lindgren were selected to perform the 7-hour spacewalk. Kelly arrived at the ISS in May and plans to stay 342 days at the station-the longest time in space for any NASA astronaut.

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