AUSTIN — After decades of service, NASA’s Hubble telescope has told us much about the universe, but as NASA and partner Northrop Grumman tell it, the story is only half told. Hubble’s amazing technology took us to the edge of our galaxy. The John Webb Space Telescope, which is making a special appearance, of sorts, at SXSW 2013, will take us all the way back to the beginning of time.
And perhaps reveal the secrets of the universe.
This giant of a telescope won’t launch until 2018, but when it does, it will do so on the back of a European-built rocket and fly a million miles out in space. That distance will help keep it from falling out of orbit (apparently the gravitational pull of various planetary objects will help keep it in position). This is obviously much further out in space than the Hubble, which had been retrieved and repaired by Space Shuttles. Once the Webb Space Telescope goes out into space, it’s on its own. While the Webb Telescope is out there, its giant 21-foot mirror will use infrared light to scan for the first light after the big bang.
It’s hard to get a real sense of the scale of the Webb telescope. We’ve seen videos and tiny models, but nothing compares to what NASA and Northrop Grumman brought to the SXSWi conference in Austin, Texas. It’s a full-scale, 60-ft, 12,000 pound, near exact replica of the James Webb Space Telescope. And it is awe inspiring. The replicscope is part of a large NASA STEM Education and Visualization exhibit (which, unlike the telescope is under a big tent). In addition to dozens of space tech displays, it featured an every-half-hour schedule of informative “space” talks.
Though it weighs nearly the same amount as the real James Webb Telescope (the real one weighs 2,000 pounds more), this is a non-functional model, simply there to help illustrate the scale, scope and capabilities of the telescope. As Scott Wiloughby, Northrop Grumman Program Manager for the JWST, explained, “What better opportunity to have 30,000 passersby learn about what NASA is up to? We want people to know we didn’t stop.”
Check out the photos for an up-close look at the Webb Replica and watch the video for more details on the upcoming mission.
Photo by Mashable
Article source: http://mashable.com/2013/03/08/webb-telescope/Tags: james webb telescope, hubble telescope, John Webb Space Telescope <BR/>