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Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn.

The James Webb Space Telescope arrives in French Guiana ahead of its launch

The James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the famous Hubble Space Telescope, on October 12, 2021 arrived in French Guiana ahead of its launch. The multi-billion Dollars telescope began its voyage to South America about two weeks ago in late September. On September 24, the JWST was transported from Northrop Grumman’s manufacturing facility in Redondo Beach to the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach in Seal Beach, California. After being loaded onto the cargo vessel MN Colibri, James Webb departed the United States on September 26. The ship entered the Panama Canal on October 5 and safely arrived at the Port de Pariacabo on the Kourou River in French Guiana earlier today. The transportation from the U.S. to the French overseas region was conducted in secrecy, to avoid any contact with pirates on route to South America.

In the following two months, the space observatory will be transported from the Port de Pariacabo to the Guiana Space Centre and will be prepared for its launch atop an Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle.

The launch of the JWST is currently scheduled to occur on December 18, 2021 from the ELA-3 launch site at the Guiana Space Centre.

The MN Colibri arrives in French Guiana. Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn.
The MN Colibri arrives in French Guiana. Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn.

The James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST for short, is a large infrared space telescope operated by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The spacecraft will be launched into space atop an European Ariane 5 rocket and will be positioned at the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point, 1.5 million kilometers away from planet Earth. From this location, James Webb will study the universe in the near-infrared and mid-infrared wavelengths at a never before seen resolution.

To operate at perfect conditions and sensitivity, Webb will be cooled down to -233 °C by deploying a sunshield to block heat and light from the Sun, Earth and the Moon. Due to the telescope’s extreme complexity, the JWST is expected to begin scientific operations about six months after its launch.

The James Webb Space Telescope and its deployed sunshield seen during testing. Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn.
The James Webb Space Telescope and its deployed sunshield seen during testing. Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn.

Sources:

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-webb-space-telescope-arrives-in-french-guiana-after-sea-voyage

https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Webb/Targeted_launch_date_for_Webb_18_December_2021

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