By Kevin Zhang
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a fully modernized space telescope equipped for viewing the universe in ways never before realized, has successfully launched on Christmas morning.
The telescope was launched on the back of an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 7:20 a.m. ET.
During liftoff, NASA posted on Twitter: “We have LIFTOFF of the @NASAWebb Space Telescope! At 7:20am ET (12:20 UTC), the beginning of a new, exciting decade of science climbed to the sky. Webb’s mission to #UnfoldTheUniverse will change our understanding of space as we know it.”
The Webb telescope had been subjected to years of delays, including complications brought by technical challenges, and in recent years the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Webb telescope is set to provide us with new answers to our questions about the solar system, provide a new angle on exoplanets and look even deeper into the universe than ever before.
On Twitter, the European Space Agency, or ESA, referred to the successful launch of the telescope as “an awesome Christmas present” for international launch teams and all of space science.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson also shared his gratitude for the international teams that made the mission and the launch possible, saying “This is a great day for planet Earth. Thanks to the team. You all have just been incredible. Over three decades, you produced this telescope that is now going to take us back to the very beginnings of the universe. We are going to discover incredible things that we never imagined.”
The Webb telescope is set to examine exoplanets and their atmospheres, searching for those that are potentially habitable and looking to uncover clues regarding life outside of Earth.