How technology is helping NASA search for planets where life exists

NASA James Webb Telescope. (photo: XL Weekly)

Engineering teams of the POT have confirmed with their latest tests that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the direct successor of the mythical Hubble, It is ready to lift off from Earth on Wednesday, December 22 at 7:30 am. ITS T (at the same time as Peru or Colombia) from the Kourou cosmodrome, located in French Guiana.

This space observatory is named after the deceased James edwin webb, who served as NASA’s second administrator from 1961 to 1968. It is an international mission comprised primarily of space agency members from the United States, Europe, and Canada.

Technology for the James Webb Telescope

Among its tools, the James Webb telescope has MIRI: a detector designed to be able to see as far as possible in space; It will even show us the cosmos a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, whose current age is estimated at 13.8 billion years.

This spaceship will have countless glimpses of the universe past, astronomically speaking, as a powerful “time Machine”, as NASA calls it, a fairly common process.

James Webb Telescope.  (photo: Technology of the future)
James Webb Telescope. (photo: Technology of the future)

Why is it called the Time Machine

The information of the universe comes mainly the reflection of light or its emission. Light travels at an average speed of 300,000 km / s in a vacuum.

Without going that far, we appreciate the Sun as it did 8.3 minutes ago because its rays take a long time to reach Earth.

The distance of the Sun from the Earth.  (photo: Very Interesting)
The distance of the Sun from the Earth. (photo: Very Interesting)

The most distant galaxies, like the ones Webb would see, are more than 13 billion light-years away. That is, its light has taken all the time to reach the telescope, so we should see them as they were 13,000 million years ago.

Conversely, a telescope from a very distant civilization pointed at our planet would capture a completely different era, like the domination of dinosaurs or the slow evolution of hominid species.

What’s more, James Webb was designed with an 18 hexagon primary mirror, three times the size of Hubble, which together form a main mirror 6.5 meters in diameter. Its secondary mirror eliminates possible optical errors to provide images with higher resolution and stability.

The goal: to find new worlds where there is life

Its state-of-the-art cameras, as well as the coronometer and spectrometer that coexist with the spacecraft, will recognize astronomical objects in low light. In this way, the planetary transits of other worlds will be recorded much better with the help of this revolutionary telescope, whose investment cost will exceed 10 million dollars.

Planetary transits are known as planetary transits that pass through the surface of their parent star. This is the most effective method to date for detecting worlds beyond the solar system.

The low brightness of a star can indicate the presence of a planet that passes in front of it.  (Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
The low brightness of a star can indicate the presence of a planet that passes in front of it. (Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

As this robotic probe will observe the universe in the infrared spectrum, you will be able to study the atmospheres of the planets using methane, a gas involved in biological evolution, that is, the development of life.

The teacher Gillian wright, Director of the UK Center for Astronomical Technology in Edinburgh, said: “First of all, infrared is the perfect part of the spectrum. dust, and this is important because stars and planets form in dusty regions. He added that the data from the space observatory would be “important” and would provide “an important means of examining the formation of promising planets in our galaxy.”

These are the main differences between the James Webb and Hubble telescope

The field of view of the James Webb probe will be greater than that of the Hubble telescope. Furthermore, the eThe main mirror of the new telescope is 3 times larger than that of its predecessor.

JWST has an umbrella the size of a tennis court. This essential component serves to protect the telescope’s optics from any heat source. With dimensions of 21 x 14 m, it will remain compact until it is opened to space. The tests were carried out on Earth in 2020.

James Webb Telescope vs.  Hubble.  (photo: NASA)
James Webb Telescope vs. Hubble. (photo: NASA)

Only the base of the James Webb Space Telescope measures 22 x 12 m; however, it weighs half that of Hubble. Unlike the Hubble telescope, which orbits synchronously with Earth, JWST will orbit the Sun 1.5 million kilometers away.

To be more precise, JWST will approach the Lagrange point TerreSoleil (L2). A Lagrange point is one of the five places in the orbital system where an object can still experience the gravitational pull of two more massive bodies.

Lagrange TerreSoleil Point.  (photo: Astronoo)
Lagrange TerreSoleil Point. (photo: Astronoo)

For example, for an artificial satellite, these objects are the Earth and the Moon.

Similarly, James Webb will focus on viewing the universe in the infrared spectrum; Hubble does this at the ultraviolet and optical wavelengths.


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