You Can't Watch NASA's Webb Space Telescope Mission Trailer And Not Get Excited

NASA has released a trailer for the upcoming launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, a new space-based observatory that will be the most powerful space telescope in the world. Set for launch on Christmas day, James Webb will be the successor to the beloved Hubble Space Telescope and will allow astronomers to look further out into the darkness of space than ever before.

Telescopes like James Webb are launched into space so they don't have to look through the water in Earth's atmosphere to observe objects in space, which allows them to see further out and in more detail. James Webb is packed with scientific instruments like spectrographs and infrared cameras which will allow it to image distant stars and to study other objects like black holes and exoplanets (via NASA).

Though it continues to capture beautiful images of space, the Hubble telescope is now more than 30 years old and its hardware is beginning to fail. NASA will keep Hubble running as long as possible, but the agency also needs a newer, more advanced telescope to perform more complex science. That's where James Webb comes in.

Built through international cooperation between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, James Webb has been a long time coming and has been hit with many, many delays during its development. But it's now ready to launch, set to blast off on Christmas day, 25th December 2021, from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, which is on the northeastern coast of South America.

The launch will use an Ariane 5 rocket to carry the telescope into orbit. In order to fit the telescope inside the rocket, parts of it had to be folded up, including its huge, tennis-court-sized sunshield. The observatory's sunshield features an origami-like design, so it can fold up small to fit in the rocket and then be deployed once the telescope is in orbit. ´╗┐The public is invited to watch the event on NASA TV starting at 6 AM ET on December 25.

To celebrate this exciting launch, NASA's video trailer uses the inspiring words of famous astronomer Carl Sagan along with footage of James Webb being built and images of some of the space phenomena it will study. In the words of the great Sagan, "If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal."