Ethan Siegel, an astrophysicist, has written a detailed report on the James Webb Space Telescope, complete with photos, videos, and back-up material. Here’s a short video about the mirrors that will focus the ancient starlight.
Here’s Siegel’s summary of why the JWST is needed:
. . . Hubble isn’t the end of astronomy and astrophysics; there’s a whole lot more Universe out there simply begging to be understood. How did the first stars form? What do the earliest galaxies look like? When did the first galaxy clusters show up? And . . . so much more. To get there, we need a significantly larger telescope, in space, capable of viewing wavelengths of light far longer than the ones Hubble is sensitive to. And that’s just what the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) — with seven times Hubble’s light-gathering power — promises to be.
Like Hubble before it, which helped cosmology and astrophysics advance by leaps and bounds, this is the sort of thing that government ought to do, because the private sector can’t or won’t. Siegel makes a convincing case that Congress is to blame for the cost overruns to date. Here’s hoping that Siegel can convince them that to fund the next steps.