KOUROU | The James Webb Space Telescope, eagerly awaited by astronomers and astrophysicists around the world, arrived in French Guiana on Tuesday, from where it will be launched on December 18, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) said.
• Read also: A giant cavity in the Milky Way discovered
The “JWST”, which will be the largest and most powerful ever launched into space, arrived “safe and sound” at the Pariacabo spaceport in Kourou, after 16 days of sea travel, covering more than 2 400 km from California, specify the American and European agencies in their press releases.
The ro-ro ship carrying it was able to pass without incident on the Kourou river, specially dredged for the occasion.
The telescope, more than 10.5 m high and almost 4.5 m wide when folded, “was shipped in the folded position in a 30 m long container which, together with the ancillary equipment, weighs over. 70 tonnes ”, details ESA.
It will now be taken to the launch site, at the European space center in Kourou, where preparations will begin two months before its launch, scheduled for December 18 aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket.
Billed as the successor to the Hubble Telescope, launched in 1990, the JWST was built in the United States under the direction of NASA, and incorporates instruments from the European (ESA) and Canadian (CSA) space agencies. It was initially to be launched in the 2000s but has experienced many delays, in particular because of its great complexity.
The JWST will explore with unparalleled precision all phases of the cosmos, right down to the first ages of the Universe and the formation of the first galaxies. It will be placed in orbit around the Sun, 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, well beyond the limits of its big brother Hubble, which has been operating at an altitude of 600 km since 1990.