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Uploaded:2011-02-02
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The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to the Hubble's throne. In order to pick up extremely faint infra-red signals from extremely distant stars and galaxies, the JWST has to be extremely cold. Any noise from the IR radiation of the Sun or Earth would make it impossible to see as far into the past as scientists want to.

Thus, the JWST has to be a million miles from the earth, protected by a six-layer heat shield as big as a tennis court. This will allow the Webb Telescope to peer into the deepest reaches of space, through clouds of dust into stellar nurseries and back in time 13.4 billion years.

Not only will we get the most detailed views of our universe ever, but the JWST will provide insights into how solar systems, galaxies, stars and even the Universe were formed.


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A Bunny
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Good morning John. So in my last video I was all "I need to make a video about the James Webb Space Telescope." And then the nerdiest of the nerds in the comments were all *displays comments asking for said video* So today, I must talk about the James Webb Space Telescope because it's freaking awesome! But by way of a longer and second introduction to this topic, I have a thing to say. I personally believe that there are two ways to make the world a better place. You can decrease the suck, and you can increase the awesome. Now these are not mutually exclusive things. That's hard to say. Mutually exclusive. But there are also not the same thing. And it's clear that decreasing suck is extremely important - probably, in the end, more important than increasing awesome. And thus, when I talk about the space program, people are always like, "NASA's money could be better spent on services for humanity!" And to them, I say: I do not want to live in a world where we only focus on suck and never think about awesome. If we lived in that world, then people would play soccer by having both teams stand and guard their own goal the whole game with the ball sitting at midfield. And then, at the end of the game, we're supposed to all celebrate cause no one scored any goals against our team. That's not gonna get you on SportsCenter. We have to guard the goal, and we have to try and prevent bad things from happening, but we also have to make good things happen. And that is why I love the James Webb Space Telescope. It's the space telescope version of - of a freaking awesome...frik- space telescope! This thing gives me serious nerd wood. So without further ado, my nerdy comrades, here are the top five reasons why the James Webb Space Telescope frickin' kicks ass! It is huge! The total mirror size is seven and a half times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope's mirror. The heat shield is the size of a tennis court. Number four! It's a freaking transformer. Because it's so huge, it could never fit in its full form in the top of a rocket ship. And so, in order to fit into the rocket, it's super-duper folded up. And then when it arrives, it unfolds in like twelve thousand different marvelous little ways that could go wrong at any moment. And it freaks me out, because I worry about that. And oh woe for humanity, no one is going to be there to see this thing open up, but luckily, the wonderful computer animators at NASA have given us the images that I have been showing you. Number three! It will operate one million miles from Earth. That's about four times as far away from the Earth as the moon is. The Webb Telescope actually orbits the Sun, that's a simplification. It's actually in the relative stationary Sun Earth Lagrange Point Two, which I'm not going to try to explain to you right now. If it screws up, there's no way to fix it. You may have noticed that we went to fix the Hubble like ten thousand different times. Well, we're not gonna get that opportunity with the James Webb Space Telescope. One-off. One chance to do it right, or it's a six billion dollar piece of space-junk. That is tense! Number two! It will be able see planets orbiting stars in our galaxy. Individual planets - if the James Webb Space Telescope was twenty five light years away, it could see the Earth. It can also determine the chemical composition of the planets, and it can peer into stellar nurseries to see planets as they form, watch solar systems forming! And finally, the James Webb Space Telescope can see thirteen point four billion years into the past! This is particularly impressive because the universe is thirteen point seven billion years old. We will be seeing the first galaxies as they form, the first stars as they form. And guess what? None of this is necessary to life on Earth. None of it's going to help us cure malaria or install a democracy in Egypt. But it is awesome, in the truest sense of the word awesome. I'm sorry that there's so many hand gestures in this video. I am feeling very gesture-y. This is the dawn of everything that we know. And that is increasing awesome. And that is something that I can get behind. John, I'll see you on Friday.