The JWST space telescope should make it possible to analyze the far reaches of the universe. After years of waiting and last minute worries, it should take off in two months. Scientists await with some trepidation its deployment, a long and complicated stage.
The promises and expectations around the James Webb telescope are high: “ While Hubble's limited infrared sensitivity prevented it from seeing beyond 500 million years after the Big Bang, the JWST will be able to see more than 500 million years after the Big Bang. to see stars only 200 million years after the birth of the Universe ”according to the CEA.
Before seeing the instruments it carries and how the scientists plan to get there, let's take a look back at this project which began more than ... three decades ago. Its beginnings date back to 1989 when Ricardo Giacconi (then director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and future Nobel Prize winner in physics in 2002), realized that " a minimum of 20 years was required between the first studies and the launching of a space project ”.
Hubble was not yet launched, that its successor was already in everyone's mind, for a simple reason: “ We know what [Hubble] is not going to discover. We know that Hubble will not explore the deepest infrared universe , ”explains Olivier La Marle, head of the Universe Sciences program and French delegate to ESA's Science Program Committee.