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Micro and Macro

by
Henry Zheng

It seems in recent times, the world has spent much of its attention and efforts staring through a microscope. Let’s take a step back to examine the opposite and see things through a telescope – literally. In exactly one month from now, the James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the Hubble Telescope, is expected to be launched into space from its French Guiana site.

So why is this a big deal? With development cost approximately ten billion dollars spanning over many years, this Webb Telescope has expectations of becoming the scientific marvel of this decade, or even more optimistically, of the century.

In man’s everlasting path of advancements, the topic of space has certainly been a hot topic all along the 21st century. It’s been over 3 decades since the Hubble was launched into low Earth orbit, acting as a research tool, and advancing the field of astronomy. More recently headlines show Branson’s glitz and glamor of riding his Virgin Galactic rocket (NYSE: SPCE) against fellow billionaire competitors into space.

Now it is nearing the final stages of launching a collective effort, the likes of which mankind has never done before, into the great unknown of space. The mission? Look at every phase of cosmic history, shedding light on what is not yet known about our own solar system and the universe.

Launch will be a challenge, as everything needs to be perfect as planned. By design, it cannot fit into a rocket and thus designed to meticulously fold moving parts during its launch. After the launch, it will involve thousands of parts assembling over a month in space, and then 6 months of commissioning.

In theory, if you look through the telescope tens of thousands of lightyears away, what is observed is how the object was from that long ago, rather than right now in real-time. This concept itself seems to bend matter and flow of time compared to our average everyday understanding.
With such heavy investment and resources committed, much of the world is anticipating something grand in return, whether it be scientific discoveries or technological advancements. The first images are expected to be collected in 2022. It is an exciting time to witness what this telescope will bring and what understandings it will create for us about the great unknown space.

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