The moon and the hornet

Publish date 27-04-2022

by Valentina Turinetto

On December 24th, together with the departure of Santa Claus for the delivery of gifts, we witnessed another departure: the missile carrying the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most powerful of the telescopes ever, was launched built in the world. This moment is the result of a work that lasted almost thirty years, designed by NASA in collaboration with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, costing 8 and a half billion dollars.

The James Webb Space Telescope will allow you to look far beyond its predecessor Hubble, which it bears witness.
Webb Space has a diameter almost three times greater and this will allow to collect more light and therefore to see fainter and more distant objects, with greater clarity. The fact that it is located beyond the Earth's atmosphere, in addition to improving the sharpness of the images, will make it possible to observe space in the infrared, identifying the "thermal imprints" present in space, even coming from very distant galaxies. The power of its "eyes" can be compared to the ability to detect a hornet on the moon.
1.5 million kilometers from the earth, away from the interference of our planet, it will be able to explore space more precisely and accurately, searching for new information.

Among the objectives of the work that the telescope will carry out in the next ten years there are some particularly important ones. The greater power of this tool will help to retrace all the ages of the universe and will allow us to trace the origin of the first stars and galaxies. Furthermore, it will be possible to study exoplanets, that is to say planets that revolve around stars other than the sun, by studying the characteristics of extrasolar systems; in particular, it will be possible to characterize the atmosphere of exoplanets by analyzing the chemical elements present; this information can give indications on signs of life or useful elements for its development.

In the face of such great enterprises it is impossible not to be amazed by the great intelligence of man. We experience the grandeur of the cosmos that dominates us, but it still eludes us in its entirety. The infinitely small, like the infinitely large, continue to contain the mystery of life.

Valentina Turinetto
NP January 2022

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