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The James Webb Space Telescope is ready to launch – Source

A half century in astronomy has earned Garth Illingworth a front-row seat to several rocket launches bearing his fingerprints. But he’s particularly ardent about the one coming up on December 25. That’s when the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) blasts off from Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, to an orbit 1 million miles away, where it will glimpse the infant universe.

At $9.7 billion, the four-story, 14,000-pound space observatory is NASA’s most ambitious science mission yet, and among its most expensive. Its primary job is to capture and analyze traces of infrared light from the formation of the first stars and galaxies 13.5 billion years ago, some 200 million years after the Big Bang. But its four onboard instruments will also examine the atmospheres of rocky exoplanets orbiting nearby stars to determine their suitability for life, as well as the makeup of our solar system’s outer planets.

The JWST is an astonishing feat of engineering that has engaged…

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