BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The farther out into the universe you look, the farther back in time you see.

The James Webb Space Telescope will look deeper than any other telescope before, to the edge of the big bang.

“We can see about 13.8 billion light years out, and 13.8 billion years back in time,” said Dr. John Mather of  NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Decades in the making, the Webb telescope’s mirrors and instruments all came together at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

For months it has been undergoing tests, to make sure the telescope can survive the stress of a rocket launch.

“Where we simulated the vibration levels and the sound levels just will see inside the rocket, which is really the most violent environment it will see,” said Bill Ochs, the telescope’s project manager.

It will then travel one million miles out and park in space cold enough to allow the telescope to see in infrared light. Unlike the way we see, infrared can peer through dust and decipher chemical signals, through vast distances.

“What we’re going to look for are the first stars and galaxies that formed after the big bang. How the first black holes grew. How are stars being born today,” Mather said.

The first stars and galaxies aren’t the only thing the Webb telescope will be looking for.

“And that’s one of the most exciting things I think this telescope is going to do,” Amber said.

Searching out the planets that orbit other stars as they pass in front of their suns, Webb will look for signs of atmospheres.

“So the first thing we’ll try to see if these planets out there have oceans, because we should be able to pick up the water vapor,” Mather said.

The telescope’s findings are a critical step in the search for life.


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