Seeing Deeper: The Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope is NASA's next orbiting observatory and the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. A tennis court-sized telescope orbiting far beyond Earth's moon, Webb will detect infrared radiation and be capable of seeing in that wavelength as well as Hubble sees in visible light.
Infrared vision is vital to our understanding of the universe. The furthest objects we can detect are seen in infrared light, cooler objects that would otherwise be invisible emit infrared, and infrared light pierces clouds of dust, allowing us to see into their depths. Webb will unleash a torrent of new discoveries, opening the door to a part of the universe that has just begun to take shape under humanity's observations.
Right now, scientists and engineers are piecing Webb together, creating through cutting-edge technology an innovative observatory that not only withstands intense cold, but uses it to its advantage; an observatory that folds up inside a rocket for launch and unfurls like a butterfly opening its wings upon nearing its orbit. Later this decade, the Webb telescope will launch into space, sailing to the distant, isolated orbit where it will begin its quest. Supernovae and black holes, baby galaxies and planets' potential for supporting life — Webb will help reveal the answers to some of the biggest mysteries of astronomy.