The Hubble telescope has been the largest telescope in space since 1990. It’s as big as a school bus and can travel around Earth at five miles per second. Scientists have learned so much about space by seeing pictures taken from Hubble, but will that all change because of the new James Webb Space Telescope? Do I see a competition in our near future?
Webb often gets called a replacement for Hubble, but that is not the case, at all. Webb is more like … a close relative. Webb’s scientific goals were actually inspired by the findings of Hubble.
So, don’t think of it as a “competition” at all, its capabilities aren’t even identical.
You may be asking yourself, “Oh my God, Livia, what are its capabilities?” … (or not), but if you are, it's your lucky day.
To begin, Webbs has four built-in scientific instruments to help make observations throughout the universe. These instruments are: the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), and the Fine Guidance Sensor/ Near Infrared Imager and Stitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS).
While Hubble’s instruments are: the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS), the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS), and the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS).
Hubble’s instruments are primarily focused on ultra-violet and visible parts of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum whilst Webbs are primarily focused on the infrared range of the EM spectrum, with some capability in the visible range.
The Hubble space telescope orbits around Earth at an altitude of 570 km above. Webb will actually not be orbiting around the Earth at all but it will be sitting around the Earth-Sun instead at about 1.2 million km away.
Webb was launched on Christmas day last year on an Ariane 5 rocket and because it isn’t in Earth orbit, like Hubble, it was not designed to be accompanied by a space shuttle.
Though Hubble has been and probably is one of the most famous and genius space telescopes in history, Webb will uncover the history of the universe from the Big Bang to alien planet formations.
I don’t know about you, but I am the most excited about what this new technology will bring to the table.