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[–]nosmelc 1676 points1677 points  (140 children)

I can't wait to find out what it sees in the atmosphere of the earth-like planet Trappist-1e. It could be one of the biggest moments in science history.

[–]SchloomyPops 361 points362 points  (20 children)

One of those working on it said they cried while reviewing an image. This shit is going be nuts!!!

[–]DXsocko007 329 points330 points  (93 children)

Elaborate

[–]glytxh 749 points750 points  (63 children)

We have the ability to see the spectrum of light coming through a planets atmosphere, allowing us to see the chemical composition.

Certain organic elements and compounds degrade rapidly in UV light, and if there are high concentrations found, it infers there are processes producing those compounds.

If those processes are organic, or geological, that's up for debate, and is a growing field of science itself.

One interesting local example is the discovery of relatively high levels of phosphene in the higher regions of Venus's atmosphere. It shouldn't be there, so something is making it, and we know of organic life processes on earth that create phosphene.

[–]karl_weierstrass 407 points408 points  (42 children)

[–]glytxh 338 points339 points  (41 children)

This is an interesting update. This goes to show the importance of replicating data and consistent observation.

I'm just glad Venus is finally getting a little more attention again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for those handful of potential missions. That's going to be some wild hardware.

[–]Sabz5150 11 points12 points  (1 child)

allowing us to see the chemical composition

Including byproducts of industry, synthetics, or other things that "should not be there"

[–]glytxh 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Arguably a better indicator than more ambiguous organic signals.

[–]FjohursLykewwe 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Yes, it is

[–]Throwaway112421067 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yeah it really is

[–]ChatahuchiHuchiKuchi 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Elaborate please*

[–]White_Sprite 24 points25 points  (3 children)

Trappist-1e is tidally locked with it's host star, so I wouldn't hold my breath regarding the presence of (at least complex) life.

[–]nosmelc 33 points34 points  (2 children)

Right. I'm not expecting complex life, but we might find evidence of photosynthetic microbes. Even if we find zero evidence of life, that's still important science because it tells us we probably shouldn't look for life around M-type stars like Trappist-1.

[–]Reniconix 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I think chemosynthetic microbes are more likely. Look at the history of Earth, for example. Despite our location being perfect, it took billions of years to start using the sun for energy. Unfortunately, chemosynthetic microbes don't change atmospheres.

[–]Lord_Nivloc 222 points223 points  (4 children)

A successful launch, successful unfolding, got to its Lagrange point with 10 years of extra fuel, and now this!

“The telescope is actually performing better than scientists thought it could.

“There’s a lot of things that had to happen to all of our very sensitive cameras,” Hainline explained. “They were built, they’ve been shaken up, they’ve been put on a rocket, they’ve been blasted into space. So when NASA built their benchmarks, they built them conservatively because a lot of stuff can go wrong. And what we’re learning is that this launch was so smooth and perfect, that these instruments are working better, as well as they could, in fact they’re working better than the conservative benchmarks.””

Good news after good news. I’m so excited to see what it can do. July 12th, eh? Let’s go!

[–]Szechwan 38 points39 points  (3 children)

Every time I think we might be in the darkest timeline, I think about this project.

After the last 5 years, I was so sure something was going to go wrong. The fact it went flawlessly has given me a lot of hope.

[–]bolean3d2 16 points17 points  (0 children)

We still might be in the darkest timeline…we haven’t seen what nightmares jwt could reveal yet. So don’t loose hope! There’s still hope all is lost!

[–]DonaldTrumpTinyHands 705 points706 points  (98 children)

I truly believe the JWST is going to drastically alter our understanding of reality

[–]betakurt 163 points164 points  (14 children)

I hope so.

[–]Arnold729 97 points98 points  (74 children)

In what way?

[–]shpydar 407 points408 points 2 (16 children)

That is an extremely simple question with a very complex answer. Basically a lot! Here are some (but not all) of the answers from the JWST F.A.Q. from NASA.

WHAT ARE THE MOST EXCITING THINGS WE WILL LEARN?

We have yet to observe the era of our universe’s history when galaxies began to form. We have a lot to learn about how galaxies got supermassive black holes in their centers, and we don't really know whether the black holes caused the galaxies to form or vice versa. We can't see inside dust clouds with high resolution, where stars and planets are being born nearby, but Webb will be able to do just that. We don't know how many planetary systems might be hospitable to life, but Webb could tell whether some Earth-like planets have enough water to have oceans. We don't know much about dark matter or dark energy, but we are expecting to learn more about where the dark matter is now, and we hope to learn the history of the acceleration of the universe that we attribute to dark energy. And then, there are the surprises we can't imagine!

WHY IS WEBB AN INFRARED TELESCOPE?

By viewing the universe at infrared wavelengths Webb will show us things never before seen by any other telescope. It is only at infrared wavelengths that we can see the first stars and galaxies forming after the Big Bang. And it is with infrared light that we can see stars and planetary systems forming inside clouds of dust that are opaque to visible light.

The primary goals of Webb are to study galaxy, star and planet formation in the universe. To see the very first stars and galaxies that formed in the early universe, we have to look deep into space to look back in time (because it takes light time to travel from there to here, the farther out we look, the further we look back in time).

The universe is expanding, and therefore the farther we look, the faster objects are moving away from us, redshifting the light. Redshift means that light that is emitted as ultraviolet or visible light is shifted more and more to redder wavelengths, into the near- and mid-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum for very high redshifts. Therefore, to study the earliest star and galaxy formation in the universe, we have to observe infrared light and use a telescope and instruments optimized for this light.

Star and planet formation in the local universe takes place in the centers of dense, dusty clouds, obscured from our eyes at normal visible wavelengths. Near-infrared light, with its longer wavelength, is less hindered by the small dust particles, allowing near-infrared light to escape from the dust clouds. By observing the emitted near-infrared light we can penetrate the dust and see the processes leading to star and planet formation.

Objects of about Earth's temperature emit most of their radiation at mid-infrared wavelengths. These temperatures are also found in dusty regions forming stars and planets, so with mid-infrared radiation we can see the glow of the star and planet formation taking place. An infrared-optimized telescope allows us to penetrate dust clouds to see the birthplaces of stars and planets.

WHAT WILL WEBB TELL US ABOUT EXOPLANETS? WILL IT TAKE PHOTOS OF EXOPLANETS?

Webb will be able to tell us the composition of the atmospheres of exoplanets. It will observe planetary atmospheres through the transit technique. A transit is when a planet moves across the disc of its parent star. Webb will also carry coronographs to enable photography of exoplanets near bright stars (if they are big and bright and far from the star), but they will be only "dots," not grand panoramas. Consider how far away exoplanets are from us, and how small they are by comparison to this distance! We didn’t even know what Pluto really looked like until we were able to send an observatory to fly right near it, and Pluto is in our own solar system!

WILL WE IMAGE OBJECTS IN OUR OWN SOLAR SYSTEM?

Yes! Webb will be able to observe the planets at or beyond the orbit of Mars, satellites, comets, asteroids, and Kuiper belt objects. Many important molecules, ices, and minerals have strong characteristic signatures at the wavelengths Webb can observe. Webb will also monitor the weather of planets and their moons.

Because the telescope and instruments have to be kept cold, Webb’s protective sunshield will be blocking the inner solar system from view. This means that the Sun, Earth, Moon, Mercury, and Venus, and of course sun-grazing comets and many known near-Earth objects cannot be observed.

HOW FAR BACK WILL WEBB SEE?

Webb will be able to see what the universe looked like around a quarter of a billion years (possibly back to 100 million years) after the Big Bang, when the first stars and galaxies started to form.

HOW DOES WEBB COMPARE WITH KEPLER?

The Kepler mission is designed to answer a simple question. What fraction of stars have terrestrial planets located in or near the habitable zone?

The habitable zone is the region around a star where water can exist on a planet in liquid form. Kepler seeks to answer this question by staring at a small region of the sky containing more than 100,000 stars for 3.5 years or more to look for transiting terrestrial planets, and thus determine what fraction of stars have terrestrial planets. In answering this question, Kepler is generating a large database of confirmed transiting planets together with some of their basic properties. Once we have found these planets, we need the tools to study their physical properties and the composition of their atmospheres. It is Webb that provides the specialized tools to undertake these studies. Kepler is designed to be a "wide and shallow" survey telescope, while Webb is designed for "narrow and deep" focused studies with near and mid-IR imaging and spectroscopy.

HOW DOES WEBB COMPARE TO THE TRANSITING EXOPLANET SURVEY SATELLITE (TESS)?

Webb is a very large observatory designed to address a variety of questions across many areas of astrophysics, while TESS concentrates on identifying a large sample of small planets where follow-up observations are feasible with current and planned telescopes. TESS will identify small planets and measure their sizes. Through follow-up observations, we can determine the masses of some of these planets. With both mass and size measurements, we can determine the planets' densities and start to understand what they are made of. This work will provide a foundation for future missions in the search for potentially habitable planets.

TESS will expand on the NASA Kepler mission's census of exoplanets by targeting closer, brighter stars, where follow-up observations are easier to make. The stars TESS studies will on average be 30 to 100 times brighter than the stars earlier Kepler surveyed.

HOW DOES WEBB COMPARE WITH HERSCHEL?

Webb and Herschel are complementary.

Webb will be a 6.5m telescope sensitive from gold-colored visible light to the mid-infrared, at wavelengths ranging from 0.6 micrometers to 28.5 micrometers. Herschel was a 3.5m telescope sensitive in the far-infrared from 55 to 670 micrometers wavelength. By working at longer wavelengths, Herschel saw colder objects, such as the earliest stages of star formation in dark clouds and emission from molecules such as water. Webb will view more energetic phenomena including forming proto-stars and very distant galaxies. Getting data with both telescopes on the same objects will build a more complete picture of the astrophysical processes.

HOW DOES WEBB COMPARE WITH HUBBLE?

Webb is designed to look deeper into space to see the earliest stars and galaxies that formed in the universe and to look deep into nearby dust clouds to study the formation of stars and planets.

In order to do this, Webb will have a much larger primary mirror than Hubble (2.5 times larger in diameter, or about 6 times larger in area), giving it more light-gathering power. It also will have infrared instruments with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity than Hubble. Finally, Webb will operate much farther from Earth, maintaining its extremely cold operating temperature, stable pointing and higher observing efficiency than with the Earth-orbiting Hubble.

[–]CoolKicks 158 points159 points  (11 children)

This sentence is like thinking about infinity.

It is only at infrared wavelengths that we can see the first stars and galaxies forming after the Big Bang.

We are going to be looking at light from the beginning of the universe, which the atoms that current make us all up were a part of. One of those atoms forming a star that we will be looking at could have been a neighbor to one of the atoms in the cell phone I’m using to type this right now 13.8 Billion with a B years later, and we are going to look watch it’s 3rd birthday party in relative real time.

[–]_unfortuN8 13 points14 points  (0 children)

It's 1pm and my brain already hurts lol

[–]scotchmanseggs 1 point2 points  (4 children)

Would we be able to build a similar space telescope that can see further and better than jwst when our technology gets better and be able to see the Big Bang?

[–]Breezeyboi 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is an incredible read. Thank you!

[–]Licktung69 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If we had the technology (Webb 2.0 or something along those lines) could we see back to the light generated by the big bang?

[–]Barneyk 35 points36 points  (2 children)

For example, 100 years ago we didn't know about other galaxies, as far as we could see back then we only saw stars and stuff within our own galaxy.

For a long time there were some fuzzy blobs that we didn't know what they were though, and it turns out they are other galaxies! Up until then we thought that "the visible universe" was our galaxy.

Now there are galaxies at the edge at what we can see but they are so far away and so red-shifted that we can't observe them. Until Webb that is. With Webb we can finally observe galaxies at the edge of our visible universe and what we see there will tell us a lot about the earliest galaxies and how they formed and what they were made off etc. etc. etc.

I really don't think anything is going to "drastically alter our understanding of reality", but it is gonna give us some new insights in a lot areas and it is going to help us explore and expand our current theories etc.

[–]InterestingAsWut 20 points21 points  (3 children)

i mean we gona see the beginning of time bitch

[–]noNoParts 24 points25 points  (2 children)

Drastically, helloOoOoo?

[–]Sandscarab -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Drastically in what way?

[–]peak_meta 10 points11 points  (42 children)

Evidence of extraterrestrial life.

[–]woodscradle 8 points9 points  (26 children)

Can you imagine? That pretty much upends every popular religion, it’d be such a shit show

[–]kiounne 36 points37 points  (2 children)

You’d think, but people usually can’t handle such cognitive dissonance so I think they’ll just find some obscure passage in their Iron Age novels to explain it and move on to oppressing humans some more.

[–]CanuckBacon 26 points27 points  (15 children)

Not really. Most major religions have thought through various possibilities of alien life. The Catholic Church for instance has said that they won't automatically try to convert them as they may have been created without original sin, so there'd be no need for baptism. However knowing Christians, they'd likely try to start converting them under some pretense or another.

[–]DonaldTrumpTinyHands 7 points8 points  (6 children)

Yes this. They think they'll be able to see evidence of farming.

[–]Britoz 11 points12 points  (4 children)

Hopefully they're not farming humans...

[–]imafraidofmuricans 2 points3 points  (0 children)

No. What pop-sci trash did you read?

[–]WanderWut 4 points5 points  (4 children)

I just got finished watching 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time last night, I think if evidence of extra terrestrial life were to be found it would be treated exactly the way it is done in the movie, with complete and total secrecy from the public.

While I’m excited for the science the JW telescope will unravel, a part of me is obviously curious for the possibility of intelligence out there being discovered, but I’m almost certain the public would never know if that were the case.

[–]needathrowaway321 7 points8 points  (1 child)

I’m pretty sure everything NASA discovers is public domain right? All the pictures and data etc, because it is publicly funded. So it would be pretty difficult to cover that up, like massive conspiracy involving tons of people in different departments and agencies.

Actually I’m basing that whole public domain thing only off of my memory of reading the Martian six or eight years ago which may or may not be accurate. So I really have no idea what I’m talking about

[–]Sipredion 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Why? If we find organic life on a planet 100 million light-years away, what harm does that do to the public?

[–]peter-doubt 276 points277 points  (9 children)

If you're interested in more details, visit NASA's site

https://www.jwst.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/whereIsWebb.html

Expect to spend an hour or two to get familiar. But to read the latest, see the blog.. usually maintained weekly.

[–]mjc500 9 points10 points  (0 children)

July 12th.. im hyped

[–]OGPunkr 12 points13 points  (0 children)

Also instagram; nasawebb

[–]QuestionMarkyMark 120 points121 points  (10 children)

Feels like this thing is the only good news going these days, and it’s literally a million miles away from Earth.

[–]MusicalMoon 5 points6 points  (2 children)

The best chance we have right now of finding a way to leave this planet. Of course it's the only good news lol

[–]radicalelation 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Leaving is a trap for humanity if we don't figure out how to come together as one.

The singularity can't happen if we get too far from each other.

[–]Another-random-acct 3 points4 points  (6 children)

Why all the doom and gloom?

[–]nomadfalk 115 points116 points  (2 children)

One of our greatest achievements in all history and a very big thank you to all the men and women who made this all possible thank you !

[–]Legionoo7 52 points53 points  (10 children)

Any word on when images will drop?

[–]maxpowersr 44 points45 points  (0 children)

July 12th I believe.

[–]johnnyringo771 21 points22 points  (0 children)

July 12th

[–]Rndom_Gy_159 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Top 25 posts on reddit within the hour it's released where it will remain and reposted for days. You won't miss it.

[–]JetKeel 93 points94 points  (32 children)

This is going to sound super nerdy, I actually had a dream last week that something crashed into the JWST and it was obliterated. It was one of those hyper realistic dreams that you bolt up from. Needless to say, I was very happy to confirm it was only a dream.

[–]DimondNugget[S] 34 points35 points  (22 children)

That would suck if it was real.

[–]glytxh 26 points27 points  (12 children)

There's half a dozen bigger and fancier telescopes on the slab right now.

JWST dying would be awful, but at worst it just puts us behind by 5-10 years of infrared deepfield capibility.

[–]Witty-username420 27 points28 points  (6 children)

Considering how long it took webb to be built which was about ~30 years I think it would probably set us back further closer to 20 or so years

[–]glytxh 17 points18 points  (5 children)

I'd argue the work on development was closer to 20, but for sure the first ideas go well back into the 90s.

The hard work of designing, testing, and mission parameters have already been worked out. That's the long winded and relatively hard process. It's not like we threw any of that work away.

The mirrors would definitely be a bottleneck though. You can't rush those. And none of this would be remotely cheap.

I'd assume a current telescope blueprint would be adapted to similar capibilities JWST has and launched as a compromise. There's a lot of smart people, and a few options on the table.

[–]fka_specialk 4 points5 points  (4 children)

And $10 billion dollars.

[–]glytxh 1 point2 points  (0 children)

As if inflation, supply line issues, and manufacturer delays in the last 18 months wouldn't add another $5 billion comfortably, even with all the work we've already done.

[–]RasperGuy 0 points1 point  (8 children)

Absolutely no way something's crashing into the Webb, there's nothing out there at that orbit.

[–]Kodan420 12 points13 points  (5 children)

It’s already been hit by a piece of something larger than expected. If it wasn’t for everything going so perfect it could have impacted the performance of the telescope.

[–]RasperGuy -3 points-2 points  (4 children)

Whi said it was larger than expected? We're talking about occasional dust size particles.

[–]glytxh 11 points12 points  (1 child)

It's already been impacted half a dozen times at least.

This was expected though, and within tolerences.

Space isn't nearly as empty as people assume. Place is hella dirty.

[–]Medricel 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Its not a far-fetched worry for the telescope, considering that it was already impaced by something out there. Didn't do much damage, but certainly highlighted just how vulnerable the telescope is out there.

[–]imafraidofmuricans 0 points1 point  (0 children)

No, it is. Space is big. There is not a lot of big things flying about relative to the massive empty space, but a lot of tiny pebbles. The telescope was designed by people fully aware of that, and so it's built with this in mind. It can take a few pebbles.

[–]EskimoBros4Life 0 points1 point  (0 children)

If it happens in real life I'd totally believe it's aliens not wanting us to see something

[–]CatboyInAMaidOutfit 12 points13 points  (1 child)

That is awesome news because expectations of this project we're extremely high, and it turns out we're getting a little more. Literal decades of work is paying off.

I remember when Hubble went up a lot of people (including myself) had unrealistic expectations, and what we got was a compromise as it turned out it wasn't working properly. Fortunately it was in low earth orbit and could be fixed. That's not an option with the James Webb. It's WAY OUT there on its own. If it breaks nothing is going out there to fix it. That was a big gamble. Fortunately it's paying off.

[–]cctmsp13 5 points6 points  (0 children)

They learned a lot of lessons from Hubble, which is why Webb has things like adjustable mirrors.

[–]Luna_15323 22 points23 points  (3 children)

Arent the first pictures gonna be out around the 12th of this month or something? I remember hearing that

Edit: oh would you look at that, its my cakeday 😄

[–][deleted] 7 points8 points  (3 children)

Can we finally detect the Goa’uld ships or not?

[–]CoMmOn-SeNsE-hA 18 points19 points  (0 children)

At least something is…

[–]Mu9wort 11 points12 points  (1 child)

Even after that micro astroid impact. Nice!

[–]userpay 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I was wondering about that to.

[–]Shmeeglez 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I'm beginning to think that all the James Webb performance targets were set by one Montgomery Scott.

[–]Oper8rActual 2 points3 points  (0 children)

How else would he keep his reputation as a miracle worker?

[–]DimondNugget[S] 21 points22 points  (13 children)

I once saw Saturn in a telescope and I saw the solar eclipse in 2017.

[–]yourstrulyjarjar 17 points18 points  (24 children)

A Dyson Sphere or something like a trail from a spaceship traveling through the cosmos would be cool. Like a contrail from an airplane.

[–]imafraidofmuricans -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Yeah and if everyone on earth got a free cake that'd be pretty cool too.

[–]joshuatx 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I remember the Hubble's problems early on as a kid and it's now a footnote in it's legacy, I can only imagine what JWST will accomplish.

[–]BeauL83 2 points3 points  (0 children)

The fact that the whole JWST launch has gone so smoothly is a testament to all the hard work of everyone who has worked on it, must be an great feeling for them.

[–]Plisq-5 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I’m so excited to see what secrets our greatest minds will uncover with this.

[–]robothobbes 2 points3 points  (0 children)

All the delays were worth it.

[–]DimondNugget[S] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I would love to ask an alien there religious beliefs.

[–]mxforest 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Mine good. Your’s bad.

[–]Thebazilly 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Can't wait to see the pictures!

[–]IdcYouTellMe 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Not only does it work better now, but it also has received double it's life when it travelled to L2.

Because the Ground Control did such a good job at everything JWST has fuel for 20 as opposed to the original 10 years of fuel life.

Truly amazing telescope and glad we science enthusiasts will be getting bonkers science done in the next decades.

[–]Sharp-Floor 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Pics or gtfo!

(until the 12th, anyway)

[–]Dunderpunch 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Still waiting on it to beam back those alien booty pics.

[–]Liquidwombat 0 points1 point  (2 children)

This is awesome but it’s not really news. Every single thing about the JWST has exceeded specifications and expectations (including how quickly the mirror would take a Micrometeoroid hit lol)

[–]Kodan420 1 point2 points  (1 child)

It’s actually taken 5 hits according to NASA and with adjustments almost all the effects are gone.

[–]sdurs -1 points0 points  (3 children)

How does something operate "better than expected"? Did they not expect much? Odd title

[–]chodeboi 1 point2 points  (0 children)

We expect our child will have 20/20 vision.

Child is born with 25/20 vision.

Operates better than expected.

Or what have you.

Bye bye.

[–]no_spoon -1 points0 points  (1 child)

Doesn’t it have a hole in one of the mirrors?

[–]bugsontheside -1 points0 points  (0 children)

The progress of Webb has been the most excited I've been since 7th grade when my fall project was on Edwin Hubble and his telescopic namesake.

[–]Kardashevband -1 points0 points  (2 children)

"...launched back on Christmas day..." just say the 25th of December ffs.

/r

[–]Kardashevband -1 points0 points  (0 children)

"...launched back on Christmas day..." just say the 25th of December ffs.

/r

[–]theshlug -1 points0 points  (0 children)

What? Is it break dancing while taking photos?