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Far More Powerful James Webb Space Telescope To Take Shape After Launch: Is This The End Of The Hubble Telescope?

First Posted: Nov 29, 2016 04:33 AM EST
James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope, which will replace NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, is finished and is expected to launch in 2018.
(Photo : Alex Wong/Getty Images)

NASA's Hubble Telescope has proven its worth for the past years it has been used in various space activities. Now, the aging telescope is to be replaced by a far more powerful $9 billion worth James Webb Space Telescope.

The next generation of space telescopes is heading to its final round of ground tests. But before it could work, there are still a lot of engineering work to be done. It took about 20 years to complete the construction of the new telescope and it is set to launch in 2018.

More Powerful

The James Webb Space Telescope has seven times the collecting area than the Hubble Telescope. Moreover, it has the better ability to collect infrared light that enables the telescope to see more objects in more distant locations with more detail, Forbes reports.

With these new capabilities, scientists will be able to study newly forming planets and analyze the atmosphere of exoplanets, paving way for the search for life in space and a better understanding of the universe and its cosmos.

What Happens To Hubble Space Telescope?

For a generation, the Hubble Space Telescope has exposed some of the universe's deepest and darkest secrets. It has been instrumental for the understanding of the cosmos around the planet and even in distant galaxies.

However, with the years of usage, the telescope has aged. New innovations of today have paved way for better and more precise technologies to be used in the next generation telescopes.

The Hubble Telescope in undeniably old, and in fact, it has remained unmaintained since the last space shuttle mission in 2009. The observatory is still working today but it is expected to stop data collection in the 2020s.

NASA said that the new James Webb Space Telescope will enhance Hubble's current capabilities. Despite the new telescope having a higher resolution and ability to see more objects farther away and with more detail, it lacks Hubble's ultraviolet capabilities.

That is why astronomers and scientists are urged to provide as many UV proposals as possible because once the telescope dies, there isn't any plan to launch its replacement and successor.

"For example, one of the big topics that we're going to look at in star and planet formation is the accretion of gas on to young, newly forming stars or planets," Adam Kraus, an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Seeker.

Kraus added that budding stars and planets release gas that radiates their energy in blue and ultraviolet wavelengths. The new James Webb Space Telescope cannot capture these, just as Hubble Telescope does.

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