Space telescopes have an unobstructed view of the stars. And nothing looks as sharp, detailed and wide as the James Webb Space Telescope at Lagrange point L2 behind Earth orbiting the Sun. The telescope is a $10 billion feat of engineering that works even better than its builders at NASA, ESA and CSA had hoped.
The weekly c’t podcast c’t uplink is available …
The telescope, with its distinctive hexagonal mirrors, was launched on December 25, 2021, folded in an Ariane 5 rocket, which deployed it more precisely than hoped, saving fuel and arguably allowing the telescope a longer service life. It unfolded in space and a month later reached its target orbit around the Lagrange point 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. The unfolding of the heat shield against the sun’s radiation and the calibration of the mirrors also worked extremely well, so that the telescope now delivers images of unprecedented beauty and sharpness of galaxies, nebulae and stars.
Wilhelm Drehling, Jan Mahn and Pina Merkert look enthusiastically at the first pictures in the c’t uplink. They explain the how and why of the technology in the telescope and classify why it could enable decisive scientific findings compared to its predecessor Hubble.
In addition to the imaging instruments NIRCam and MIRI, the telescope also has NIRSpec and FGS-NIRISS on board. These instruments provide the data for spectral analyzes that allow conclusions to be drawn about the composition of stars, nebulae and galaxies. The three space agencies also publish all of this data in the first six months, so you can do your own spectral analysis. As a teaser for a forthcoming c’t article, Jan Mahn shows all the details of what such an analysis looks like.
c’t 17/2022 with the article on telescope technology is available at kiosks, in the browser and in the c’t app for iOS and Android.
There is a new video every Friday at 5 p.m. on our new YouTube channel c’t 3003!