NASA Pushes the Limits
The James Webb Space Telescope may give us a glimpse at the mysteries of the universe.
“Of all things visible, the highest is the heaven of the fixed stars.” —Nicolaus Copernicus
Since the beginning of time, man has looked at the stars in wonder. Our scientists have come a long way from On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, the famous work proclaiming the heliocentric theory, by Nicolaus Copernicus. Our 2022 version of looking at the stars now takes the shape of an incredible space telescope called the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
JWST is likely to be far superior to the Hubble Space Telescope in terms of taking pictures of deep space. That is, if this telescope is able to unfold and function as designed in space. Because of its size, JWST was designed to launch into space folded up. Once in its designated orbit, it is supposed to unfurl in the sky like an elaborate metal origami. If successful, the telescope will have performed an amazing feat of engineering.
Another cool feature of this telescope that is a key component for it to be able to see deep into space is a three-mirror anastigmat. This use of mirrors helps the telescope capture a larger amount of light from the stars and bend it back to the camera of the telescope. JWSC is specifically designed to see infrared light (heat), which is important because in the expanding universe theory, light from stars from the beginning of the universe still have those heat signatures.
To be able to see this light, the telescope and its mirrors need to be really cold. Special sunshields block any infrared rays coming from the Sun, Moon, and Earth, creating a permanent night and a significantly cold temperature for the telescope. Each of the five layers is approximately the size of a tennis court. The sunshields began to unfurl on December 31. This is the first of many more intricate steps the telescope needs to take before being able to start looking deep into space.
Why should we care about this telescope? It’s a phenomenal scientific achievement, possibly the most intricate to date. It could possibly help us answer from a scientific standpoint huge questions like: How does the universe work? How do planets form? Is there life on other planets?
The answers to these questions, in concert with what astrophysicists are already discovering with dark matter (the substance that is not made up of atoms and is resistant to light) and dark energy (the force that is pushing the universe to expand), may give us a whole new understanding of the universe in which we live. The recent discoveries of dark matter and dark energy are providing a delicate balance: the dark matter keeping visible atomic matter together, and dark energy pushing that matter asunder. They have shown that these cosmic forces also have an origin point. If there is an origin point for all atomic matter, atomic energy, dark matter, and dark energy, that sounds an awful lot like Genesis 1:2-3. To paraphrase: There was nothing, and then there was light.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if science proved the intelligent design theory to be true? Science and faith have long been falsely pitted against each other as old enemies, and yet, more and more science seems to establish that creation unfolded just as described in Genesis.
So with eager anticipation, we will wait on the first images of this telescope and the truths we hope it will unveil.
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