Now that the NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope arrived safely at its launch site in French Guiana (on the northeast coast of South America), The technical teams are completing the final checklist to prepare the pre-takeoff preparations, which will take place later this year. These preparations are expected to last 55 days, from when the observatory arrived by ship, until the day of launch.
After Webb got to the installation of the Arianespace clean room in French Guiana, pollution control technicians ensured that the observatory was clean and free of contaminants, after its nearly 9,500-kilometer journey. The engineers then ran a final set of electrical and functional tests and checked the folded mechanical setup to ensure delivery went smoothly.
A crew equipped with special hazmat suits will begin the two-week process in which the spacecraft will be charged with fuel: hydrazine and the oxidizer nitrogen tetroxide, which it will use as propulsion to maintain its orbit. Next, Webb will travel to the Vehicle Integration Building to mount it on top of the Ariane 5 rocket. The rocket fairing will then be put in place. At this point, Webb will be almost ready to launch from Europe’s spaceport, also known as the Guyana Space Center (CSG).
The fact that Earth is the only habitable planet within our solar system has prompted scientists to investigate other systems for possible signs of life.. Even with great technological advances, scientists have not been able to observe planets in other galaxies, much less determine the chemical composition of their atmospheres, until now.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), has the ability to see exoplanets that are light years from Earth. It can also scan their atmospheres for life-sustaining gases. Perhaps the most incredible thing is that this information can be collected in just 60 hours.
“What really surprised me about the results is that we can realistically find signs of life on other planets in the next five to ten years,” said Caprice Phillips of Ohio State University and author of some of the research that has gone on. being published as a countdown, including the one that confirms the telescope’s life detection capacity. NASA has a public mission monitoring site that also brings together the different investigations that the project team has developed since the beginning of the project.
Using data provided by previous orbits, JWST was projected to be able to find ammonia in the atmosphere of gaseous exoplanets, all while circling them a few times. Phillips, along with his colleagues, put together a list of planets that the JWST telescope will observe for signs of life.
The JWST will launch on December 18, 2021. It will orbit six specific exoplanets, including the dwarf planet K2-18B. These gaseous planets are larger than Earth, but may have the capacity to support life. K2-18B, in particular, has been shown to contain water and temperatures that support life.
Once the Webb takes off, After 206 seconds of flight, at an altitude of about 120 kilometers above the atmosphere, the two halves of the rocket fairing that protects the observatory during the ascent will be separated by means of a pyrotechnic system of springs, exposing the observatory to space..
The ground teams expect to receive communications from Webb shortly after the separation. The telescope will separate from the launch vehicle nearly 28 minutes after lift-off And from that point on, the ground team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, will have full control to begin the most complex sequence of deployments ever attempted in a single space mission.
The telescope is named after James Webb, an American civil servant, appointed by John F. Kennedy, who served as administrator at NASA from February 14, 1961 to October 7, 1968. Webb was the head of the Apollo project in the late 1960s.
“Mankind has contemplated the questions: ‘We’re alone ? What is life? Is life in other places similar to ours? Phillips pointed out. Our research suggests that, for the first time, we have the scientific knowledge and technological capabilities to realistically begin to find the answers to these questions”.