NASA TO LAUNCH 'ALIEN HUNTING' WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE IN LATE 2018
A telescope is being tested by NASA in a vacuum that is freezing cold before it is launched into space with the hope of unlocking some of the mysteries of how the universe was formed after the big bang and if planets outside of the solar system have alien life.
NASA said that to make sure that the optics of the telescope will be able to operate in the frigid destination, which is 1 million miles in space; it must first go through some cryogenic temperature tests in a vacuum.
The James Webb Space Telescope made its way carefully and slowly from its location at the Goddard Space Flight Center to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to take part in the tests. The tests are going to take place in the vacuum chamber that the Apollo spacecraft went through before it took the first humans to the moon. NASA said that the test was a critical one as it would verify the performance of the telescope end to end at cold temperatures that are extremely low.
Following the tests at Johnson the telescope, which is a project between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and European Space Agency, will move to California to be assembled and tested, it will then be launched in the latter half of 2018. The mission of the telescope is to explore some of the oldest galaxies in the universe along with being able to get a much closer look at planetary systems.
The James Webb Space Telescope has been likened to that of a flower blooming; however, it is, in fact, a very tough piece of technology. One of the solar systems the telescope will capture is the TRAPPIST-1 system, made up of seven planets that are orbiting a star around 40 light years away. Astronomers revealed their finding only recently and noted that three of the planets might be in the star's habitable zone. This is a region that is at the correct distance from the source of heat to be able to sustain liquid water. However, all seven of the planets may be habitable as they are so close together and the sun, which orbits closer than the scorched Mercury planet to the sun, something that is possible due to the star being smaller and cooler than that of our own.
A NASA exoplanet scientist said that if the planets have atmospheres, the James Webb Space Telescope should be the key that is needed to unlock the secrets. It is thought that the secrets include the makeup of the atmosphere, for instance, whether they contain oxygen, water, carbon dioxide and other compounds.
The Webb telescope may be able to take a look at the LHS 114ob, which is located 40 light years away in a habitable zone of the star. Scientists are excited about the newly discovered planet as it shares a lot of similarities to Earth and it is said to be about the same age, even though it is heavier and bigger.
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