NASA, in collaboration with both the European and Canadian Space Agencies, successfully launched the James Webb Space Telescope on Christmas Day—the largest and most ambitious project of its kind, and one that aims to peer back in time to uncover the universe’s very first galaxies, stars, and distant exoplanets. It’s a wonder of technology with the potential to vastly widen humanity’s understanding of the cosmos, and perhaps will one day answer one of history’s oldest questions: Who the hell do we blame for all this bullshit, anyway?
“The promise of Webb is not what we know we will discover; it’s what we don’t yet understand or can’t yet fathom about our universe,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in an official statement, adding he “can’t wait to see what it uncovers!” “Neither can we, Bill. Neither can we,” we mutter in response as we rub our hands together in anticipation of finally holding some higher power accountable for the utter nightmare of… all this.
Before the Webb Telescope can finger our prime existential suspects, however, it will need to undergo one of the most complex projects in NASA’s history: carefully unfurling its 70-by-47-foot sunshield to filter out all the space dust, solar radiation, and other interferences that cloud past cameras’ views of the heavens. The steps require “100 pins, extended booms, and other moving parts,” and will take another five days to complete before its second, equally risky task of properly deploying and angling its refracting mirrors.
Don’t worry, though. It sounds like NASA has a few contingency plans in place if any of these ensuing steps go awry. And if everything goes off without a hitch, the Webb Telescope will be one of the most impressive feats of astronomy ever undertaken. Maybe the Big Guy Upstairs will finally cut us some slack for that one.
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