NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch delayed due to COVID-19
The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST or Webb) will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. The telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in 2021. The Webb telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.
The Webb telescope was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in September 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb. Webb is an international collaboration between NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is managing the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate Webb after launch.
Well now NASA has again delayed the launch of its James Webb Space Telescope, this time because of how coronavirus has impacted work crews, Space.com reported. The telescope was scheduled for launch in March 2021 after a number of delays but now once again delayed.
We will not launch in March. Absolutely we will not launch in March. That is not in the cards right now. That’s not because they did anything wrong. It’s not anyone’s fault or mismanagement.
said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science.
With more than 4,000 planets known that orbit other stars, scientists have discovered that many of these exoplanets are quite unlike our own. NASA has a whole fleet of spacecraft that look at different aspects of these planets. Currently, TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is checking out nearby stars for possible planets. It is helping to identify candidates that future telescopes will explore further.
The upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will examine the atmospheres of exoplanets and look for clues about whether they are habitable. NASA astrophysicist Knicole Colon describes her work on the Kepler, Hubble, TESS, and Webb missions, and takes us on a tour of some of her favorite planets.
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