NASA's Gold-Covered James Webb Space Telescope Could Reveal Incredible New Worlds

NASA's Gold-Covered James Webb Space Telescope Could Reveal Incredible New Worlds

The Hubble Space Telescope has already helped us figure out the age of the universe, led to the discovery that black holes sit at the center of most galaxies and helped us study planets outside our solar system. That's why you should be pumped for its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

JWST "will be the most powerful space telescope ever built," according to NASA.

The secret to its power lies in its giant beryllium mirror, which will beĀ 6 times the area of Hubble's, so it will be able to gather much more light. The whole thing spans a whopping 21 feet:

It's really hard to build a mirror that large, so engineers assembled the telescope by fitting together 18 hexagon-shaped mirror segments. Each segment is lightly coated in gold to improve its ability to reflect infrared light.

Astronomers have big goals for JWST. Here's what it could find:

1. Baby pictures of the early universe from over 13.5 billion years ago. It will be able to spot the very first galaxies that formed. JWST will help scientists understand the evolution of galaxies over billions of years.

2. Star nurseries. JWST will be able to observe the nebulae that churn out new stars. We might learn more about how stars form in the first place and how entire solar systems develop around them.

3. More planets and moons outside the solar system. We've already found almostĀ 2,000 exoplanets, but there are likely trillions more waiting to be discovered. Some of them might even be habitable.

4. Other planets and moons in our own solar system. Just this week we figured out there was another moon hiding in the outer solar system. And astronomers think there's a ninth planet lurking beyond Pluto. What else is hiding out there that's escaped our telescopes for so long?

5. Other celestial objects we don't even know about yet. Space is huge and it's likely we aren't anywhere close to running out of new discoveries.

JWST is scheduled to launch in 2018, and we can't wait.