Originally scheduled for departure in 2011, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) just had the 18th and final segment of its primary mirror installed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. According to iflscience, the telescope will launch in 2018 if all goes according to plan from here on out.
The 18 hexagonal mirror segments are each 4.2 feet across, which combine to make the primary mirror with a diameter of 21.3 feet; about three times bigger than Hubble's primary mirror.
Photo credit: NASA/Chris Gunn
Although the Webb telescope is often advertised as Hubble's successor, it is actually quite different. While Hubble orbits around 350 miles above the earth's surface, JWST will orbit about a million miles from Earth, which is well beyond the orbit of the moon.
While the Hubble views the cosmos in visible wavelengths, the James Webb Space Telescope will observe in the infrared. This will allow it to peer deeper into the universe than Hubble. The telescope is scheduled to lift into space on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in 2018.
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