Canadian and European Space Agencies launch the most complex and powerful space telescope

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The Canadian and European Space Agencies successfully launched the most complex and powerful space telescope on Friday. (Photo Credit – Canadian Space Agency)

“Today, the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) was successfully launched at 7:20 a.m. ET from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana,” the Canadian Space Agency said in a statement.

The telescope, which promises to change our understanding of the universe, is an international collaboration between the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), NASA, and the European Space Agency.

“Once again, Canada’s space sector is pushing the frontier of science and, more so, of astronomy. Webb is the largest space science project in the 60-year history of Canada’s space program. Thanks to substantial past investments in space technologies, Canada was able to be an active partner in this exciting mission with the U.S. and Europe,” said François-Philippe Champagne, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

Canada’s contribution to Webb consists of two important elements, Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS), and Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), according to Canadian Space Agency.

Built by Honeywell with the help of scientists and engineers from the CSA, the Université de Montréal, NASA, and the Space Telescope Science Institute, Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) will guide the telescope with incredible precision during all of the telescope’s observations, with an accuracy of one millionth of a degree.

The Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), one of the telescope’s four science instruments, will enable scientists to observe distant galaxies and study exoplanets’ atmospheres to determine their potential for supporting life.

From 1998 to March 2021, the CSA invested approximately $177.8 million into the design and build of the FGS and NIRISS, and an additional $16.5 million in science support for Canada’s contribution.

The telescope will orbit the Sun around a position called Lagrange 2, located 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. It will take Webb about a month to travel to its final destination in space.

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