James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Current Affairs

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NASA’s Kepler Telescope finds 10 Earth-Like Planets

NASA’s Kepler Telescope has identified 10 Earth-like planets outside the solar system that are expected to host life due to their right size and temperature. This finding is a boost  in the hope for life elsewhere.

Exoplanet: It is a planet that does not orbit the Sun and instead orbits a different star, stellar remnant, or brown dwarf. It is also termed as extrasolar planet.

After an extensive search carried out for four years, NASA’s Kepler space telescope has detected a total of 49 planets in the Goldilocks zone. This number is set to increase as Kepler telescope has so far looked only in one quarter of one percent of a galaxy that holds about 200 billion of stars.

Goldilocks Zone refers to a habitable zone where the temperature is neither too high nor too low.

NASA has announced the discovery of 10 planets as a part of 219 new planets identified by the Kepler telescope as part of the final batch of planets since Kepler was launched in 2009. Kepler’s main mission got ended in 2013 after two of its four wheels that control its orientation in space got failed.

Kepler has identified more than 4,000 planet candidates and confirmed more than half of them. The number of potentially habitable planets could be lot more as Kepler was only able to identify only those planets that move between the telescope vision and its star.

By using Kepler and other methods, scientists have discovered around 3,600 exoplanets and about 62 potentially habitable planets.

With the launch of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) by NASA in 2018, chances of studying planets and detecting a familiar atmosphere will increase manifold. JWST will succeed the Hubble space telescope.

Kepler Space Telescope

Kepler Space Telescope (KST) is an unmanned space observatory launched in 2009 by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It is tasked with determining how many Earth-like planets occur throughout the Milky Way galaxy. It has been designed for a statistical mission and not to probe into the environmental conditions of planets that exist in the so-called Goldilocks zone (Habitable zone) of their stars.


Fact Box: James Webb Space Telescope & its First Targets

Mission officials for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have announced the initial science targets for the James Webb Space Telescope. The JWST has been scheduled to look at a large number of things in the universe including icy moons, distant exoplanets and galaxy clusters. It will look at very first galaxies after the Big Bang, search for fingerprints of life on Enceladus, Europa, and exoplanets like TRAPPIST-1e etc. As a part of the initial observations, 2100 observations has been planned for the JWST by the mission handlers.

JWST, being the most powerful telescope designed and built on Earth is scheduled to be launched in October 2018 on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana.

James Webb Space Telescope

JWST is a joint project of the NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore will conduct Webb science operations.

The JWST will be the successor of 26-year-old Hubble Space Telescope. JWST is 100 times powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope and will be the largest telescope ever sent into space. JWST will have a very large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. Its sun shield is 22 metres which is roughly the size of a tennis court and has a mirror 6.5 metres which is over twice the size of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The JWST is named after the former NASA administrator, James Webb. JWST was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST).

In November 2016, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had completed the construction of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) after more than 20 years of work.

Instruments of JWST include Cameras and spectrometers that are able to record extremely faint signals. NIRSpec having programmable micro-shutters for observation of up to 100 objects. Cryocooler for cooling the mid-infrared detectors.