James Webb Space Telescope

Why in News?

  • The James Webb Space Telescope, launched in 2021, has recently captured a clear image of the planet Uranus and its rings.


  • Uranus is an ice giant due to the chemical makeup of its interior, with most of its mass being a hot and dense fluid of icy materials like water, methane, and ammonia.
  • Uranus rotates on its side, with a roughly 90-degree angle from the plane of its orbit. This leads to extreme seasons and long periods of sunlight and darkness.
  • Uranus is among only two planets in our solar system that rotate clockwise along with Venus.The planet takes 84 earth years to orbit the Sun.
  • Uranus has 13 rings, with 11 visible in the image. Some of the rings are very bright and close together, appearing as a larger ring.
  • The planet also has 27 known moons.
  • Uranus has a unique polar cap that appears during summer and vanishes in the fall. Webb’s data can help scientists understand this mechanism.
  • In 1986, NASA’s Voyager 2 made the first – and so far, the only – visit to Uranus.
  • New Horizons passes the orbit of Uranus on its way to Pluto, becoming the first spacecraft to journey beyond Uranus’ orbit since Voyager 2.
  • The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large, infrared telescope designed to observe the most distant objects in the universe.
  • The JWST Is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • It is a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
  • The telescope was launched in December 2021 and is currently at a point in space known as the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point, approximately 1.5 million km beyond Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
  • Lagrange Point 2 is one of the five points in the orbital plane of the Earth-Sun system.
  • Lagrange Points are positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two-body system (like the Sun and the Earth) produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.
  • Its primary mission is to study the early universe, the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets, and the atmospheres of exoplanets.
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