The state-of-the-art James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch on Christmas, is a major international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency.
It is also, in many ways, a product made in Maryland.
The long-gestating project is designed to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope, and was developed under the supervision of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, where much of it was built. The telescope will be operated from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore.
The Webb telescope’s infrared sensitivity will allow scientists to observe distant objects and events in the universe with an unprecedented level of detail and sophistication. Infrared light from distant objects can be difficult to detect on earth due to atmospheric objects. But placing the telescope in an orbit nearly 1 million miles from Earth will support new research in areas such as the solar system, exoplanets, and the formation of planets, stars and galaxies, according to STScI.
The James Webb Space Telescope will launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Alignment and calibration of its instruments and mirrors is expected to take several months and the telescope is expected to be ready for scientific operations in mid-2022, according to STScI.