NASA’s James Webb Telescope is almost ready to go, and everyone is excited. And scared.
The $10 billion telescope is NASA’s largest and most powerful yet, and it’s set to change how we think about our universe. If it works.
Here’s what will (hopefully) happen:
- Launch. The telescope will be folded inside a rocket that is set to launch December 24 from a site in French Guiana.
- Travel. It then travels about a million miles to orbit the sun.
- Unfold. As it flies, the Webb has to stretch itself into a functioning telescope, calibrating, aligning, unfolding mirrors, little bits, and doo-dads, etc.
Anxious scientists posted a YouTube video titled “29 Days on the Edge” to explain how much could go wrong.
“The 29 days following liftoff will be an exciting but harrowing time,” the description reads. “Thousands of parts must work correctly, in sequence, to unfold Webb and put it in its final configuration, all while it flies through the expanse of space alone, to a destination nearly one million miles away.”
If it works the James Webb Telescope will capture light from the start of the universe. We’re talking Big Bang. So this is a pretty big deal.