After being in orbit for almost 28 years, the Hubble space telescope might be coming to its end, but does it really have to be? Hubble is expecting a companion soon known as the James Webb space telescope. Hubble’s mission is expected to last into the 2020s, and the young new James Webb is expected for launch in 2019. Which means, for that one year, the two observatories will be working hand-in-hand in collaborative data. But when Hubble comes close to its end, what’s next?
Hubble has been in space for almost three decades. The equipment has been highly exposed to solar radiation in Lower Earth Orbit. The fine-guidance sensors, which are some of the original electronics from the very start of the mission, are beginning to degrade due to those high radiation levels. Hubble’s had 5 service missions, and its camera housing has been hit many times by space debris, it has impact craters.
Here enters James Webb, which isn’t replacing Hubble, but instead, complementing it. These observatories are very different from one another. Hubble’s images and data are found mainly in the visible and ultraviolet wavelengths. Its lead to discoveries like supermassive black holes being the center of most, if not all galaxies, and even confirmed the expansion of the universe.
James Webb, however, will mainly focus on infrared wavelengths, and because the mirrors have a six and a quarter (6.25) times more collecting area than Hubble it will be able to see way further into the universe than Hubble ever could.