The James Webb Space Telescope will transform our understanding of alien worlds
NASA's newest eye in the sky will soon launch to study the mysteries of the universe—and some of its first targets will be the fascinating planets that orbit other stars.
Kourou, French GuianaBehind glass, sealed inside a clean room, the James Webb Space Telescope looks like a museum exhibit—an artifact meant to be preserved and revered. Yet its journey has hardly begun. An army of technicians is preparing the telescope for its upcoming million-mile voyage into space, where the observatory’s golden honeycomb eye will gaze back in time, peering at the earliest beginnings of planets, stars, and galaxies.
For now that 21-foot-wide eye is closed, the telescope folded like a clamshell. Gleaming in shades of gold, silver, and crinkled lavender, the $10-billion instrument is too big to fit inside one of the world’s biggest rockets, the Ariane 5, without being folded up.
NASA is footing the bulk of the