Anxious Times

Of course these are anxious times. So much to worry about. And now there is less than a week to go before launch. I am not an astronomer, but even I sense the tension mounting. If all goes according to plan the James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the mighty Hubble, is due to be launched from French Guiana on board an Ariane 5 rocket at 7.20 EST on December 24th.

OK, so it’s late, very late. And wildly over budget. But who really cares? As long as it gets to do the sort of science that the Hubble is justifiably famous for why worry about such trifling considerations. The world is waiting for more of those exquisite pictures of far distant stars and galaxies, tantalising glimpses back to the dawn of our universe and unexpected results that shatter the prevailing consensus view of how it all began.

It’s now so close! But between us and all that fun is the launch and no matter how you dice it, they can be very tricky things. It’s worrying, very worrying. These are certainly anxious times.  

The star-forming nebula (G035.20-0.74) in this Hubble image is in the constellation Aquila and is known for producing a particular kind of massive star known as a B-Type star. These stars are hot, young, blue stars up to five times hotter than our Sun. Image and caption NASA

Top Image: James Webb telescope under construction. Image: NASA

Featured image: Launch of Ariane 5 rocket. Image ESA

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