January 4, 2022
The largest, most expensive and certainly most sophisticated space telescope ever built is scheduled to lift off Dec. 25 from the north coast of South America. Upon reaching its orbital station some 932,000 miles from Earth, the massive James Webb Space Telescope just might be able to see the beginning of time.
Webb is likely to have its earliest “wins” in the area of exoplanet observations—planets that orbit stars in galaxies far from our own—said Alex Ji, a near-field cosmologist and assistant professor at the University of Chicago.
“I think this is going to have an impact on the same level as Hubble,” Ji said, noting the iconic images that telescope collected, which captured the public’s imagination. “What speaks to the power of this telescope across the entire span of astrophysics is how many people are excited about it.”