Image credits: Mathew Schwartz
News Article

Webb Space Telescope Ready to Launch

By Sofía Hanna | Mon, 10/18/2021 - 16:10

Airbus is preparing for the launch of its Webb Space Telescope (WST), which is planned for December 18 aboard an Ariane 5 launcher. The project will incorporate the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRSpec), which thanks to its excellent sensitivity, high resolution, and wide wavelength coverage, will be key to obtain a deeper insight into the evolution of the universe. 


NIRSpec is one of the four instruments onboard the NASA-ESA mission that will further help study the formation of the first stars and galaxies. “The Webb telescope will change the way we see the Universe. Our contributions to NIRSpec and MIRI instruments are a testament to Airbus’ expertise and the value we can bring to modern astronomy. We are proud to have played a key part in the future discoveries of the Webb mission,” said Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Airbus Space Systems, in an official Airbus press release. 

The Webb telescope will perform a complete functional test in October followed by a month-long journey that will cover a distance four times the distance to the Moon to reach its final destination: the Lagrange point L2, which is about 1.5 million km from the Earth. Webb has been designed with the objective of generating a wide wavelength coverage to achieve a deeper insight into the evolution of the universe. The NIRSpec will allow Webb to study the formation of the first stars and galaxies when the universe was only a few hundred million years old.

“NIRSpec will be able to capture the spectra of typically 60 to 200 galaxies at a time, allowing scientists to observe in exquisite detail how they formed and evolved. Much closer to us, NIRSpec will also be able to study the atmosphere of exoplanets, these planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. It will, in particular, search for the signature of key molecules like water.” 

The Webb project will be on board the NASA-ESA mission and its set of scientific instruments will allow researchers to look further back in time than with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). 

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Airbus, MBN
Sofía Hanna Sofía Hanna Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst