The James Webb Space Telescope – An Unfolding Story

January 10, 2021

The James Webb Space Telescope—the most powerful and complex cosmic observatory ever built—is now fully deployed. After an incredible amount of meticulous planning and almost half a year of deployment and commissioning, in addition to slowly unfolding over two weeks, it is now on a mission to study the earliest stars and explore every phase of cosmic history.  

On January 8, 2022, the Webb team successfully deployed its 6.4-metre, gold-coated primary mirror and completed the final stage of all major spacecraft deployments to prepare for science operations. Webb embarked on a 29-day trip to its observing spot, the second Lagrangian point (L2), nearly 1.6 million km away from Earth. It is due to arrive around January 23, 2022. L2 is the gravitationally stable spot, where JWST will hover for the next decade, peering deeper into the universe than any telescope ever has before. 

The Webb mission, a joint effort of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency, will peer back farther into the universe’s past from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe. 

JWST first science images are expected to appear late June 2022. Read more about the anticipated scientific impacts of JWST observations on this ESSC Blog

A conception of the James Webb Space Telescope in space showing all its main elements fully deployed. © NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez