05.01.2023 Space Farvest Decrypt Space Tech

Throwback to James Webb Space Telescope's first anniversary

Throwback to James Webb Space Telescope's first anniversary
© NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

Last December 25 marked the first year since the James Webb Space Telescope (aka Webb or JWST) has been launched in Space, atop the Ariane 5 rocket, from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, South America.

When the spacecraft unfurls in space, Webb will undergo the most difficult and complex deployment sequence ever attempted in space”, claimed Gregory L. Robinson, NASA Headquarters’ Webb’s Program Director. The JWST – named after former NASA Administrator James Webb who developed the Apollo Program – is equipped with revolutionary technology, which enables the exploration of every phase of cosmic history. The latter encompasses our solar system, observable galaxies, or everything in-between. 

The meaning of Webb’s mission lies in the disclosure of new and unexpected discoveries, so as to help scientists, and humanity overall, understand the origins of the universe: “ we are poised on the edge of a truly exciting time of discovery, of things we’ve never before seen or imagined”, said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Headquarters’ Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. JWST has a large mirror and infrared vision, which enable it to observe more distant galaxies and then, enrich our understanding on how they form. 

Image collage labeled "Abell 2744 GLASS JWST/NIRCAM." Two large frames, left and right, with countless white stars, interspersed with yellow and orange galaxies of various shapes on a black background. Two smaller center images are close ups two galaxies.

Back in July 2022, the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope presented hitherto unseen views of the cosmos. These early discoveries do present great opportunities to collect insights and – hopefully – to get closer to solving space mysteries.

“These images, including the deepest infrared view of our universe that has ever been taken, show us how Webb will help to uncover the answers to questions we don’t even yet know to ask; questions that will help us better understand our universe and humanity’s place within it.” – Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator

Later in the year, JWST unveiled more pictures of the universe, notably on measuring exoplanet atmospheres, studying chemistry and galaxy evolution, or observing star formation. In less than a year, the space telescope has proven its power and effectiveness in diving into a clearer understanding of our universe. 

This is promising not only for scientific discoveries, but also for designing even more performing space telescopes to explore space further. Who knows which other discoveries are awaiting us!