Space telescopes like Hubble and Kepler have been hard at work answering the questions of the cosmos. And that's all well and good, but with Kepler on the ropes the time is ripe for a new eye on the sky. And in a very NASA move, the telescope in the works will be pushing the quest for interstellar knowledge even further.
The goal of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is to answer those cosmic questions that humanity hasn't even thought to ask yet. While — thanks to Kepler — we now know that there are whole lot of potentially habitable exoplanets out there, deeper mysteries still remain. To discover what the answers to our own unasked questions the JWST telescope is outfitted with an 21-foot, segmented mirror array — almost three times the size of Hubble's mirror. The JWST is also an infrared telescope, allowing it to see some things that Hubble can't.
The most ancient starlight that we might be able to detect from about the cosmos is so old that it has grown gaunt in its twilight years, only visible in the infrared spectrum. By implementing the JWST, scientists will effectively open a chapter in the history of the universe that was previously lost to the mists of time.
And with Kepler ailing, Hubble could use the company. After all, there's only so much that a single telescope can do — even one as tried and true as Hubble. And in 2018, our latest eye upon the heavens will lift its lid. To learn more about what the JWST will be capable of, check out the video below. And for a peek at NASA's progress in its construction, take a peek at our image gallery too.