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Mar 09, 2017 08:21 AM EST

James Webb Space Telescope Set For Launch; NASA Invites Media And The Public To Exhibit At ‘South by Southwest’

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The Hubble Space Telescope has been in service for almost 30 years, though still operational, maintenance for it has ceased. Still going strong, it could potentially provide service for a decade or so more years. However, a new space telescope is about ready for launch called, The James Webb Space Telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope is twice as large as the Hubble, which will be sent to orbit on a proposed date in October 2018. Perhaps the most striking feature of the space telescope is its primary mirror composed of 18 hexagonal gold coated beryllium segments forming a 21.3 feet honeycombed whole. Another feature is its 72-foot sun shield, according to NASA.

The James Web Space Telescope's mirror is a huge jump from Hubble's 8-foot mirror. In comparison, for its size, the Hubble was able to provide stunning images from the vastness of our known universe, what wonders can James Webb provide when it is capable of capturing seven times more light than the Hubble and 100 times more powerful, according to Scientific American.

Apart from its size and design, the James Webb Space Telescope is also equipped with a variety of sensors, which would allow it to peer through the long-wavelength light in the orange to red spectrum, and near through mid-infrared light.

Not only will NASA be able to study the physical and chemical properties of the solar system, but also it could potentially delve deeper as to what Hubble has given, including signs of potential life. It is said that it is powerful enough to detect the faintest signatures; even a bumblebee on the moon would not be able to evade detection.

However, the $10 billion Space Telescope has to be perfect upon launch and deployment. Unlike the Hubble, its placement will be 1.5 million kilometers above the Earth, way past the orbit of the moon. The Hubble was almost useless upon launch and had to undergo almost three years to get its optics to work right.

In light of the approaching launch, NASA in partnership with Space Telescope Science Institute and the Northrop Grumman Corporation will sponsor an exhibit from Mar. 12-18, 2017 at South by Southwest at the Austin Convention Center, in Austin, Texas.

The media and public are invited, and everyone can talk with scientists and engineers regarding the James Webb Space Telescope as well as highlight the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope. The exhibit will also feature augmented reality versions of the telescope, a demonstration of some of its instruments, and a showcase of some of the materials used for the telescope.

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