What's the heaviest space telescope that was built?

2023 Jan 23

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is currently the heaviest space telescope that has been built. It is a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The JWST is designed to study the early universe and the formation of stars and galaxies, as well as the potential for life on other planets.

The JWST is an infrared telescope, which means it is able to observe objects that are too cool or too distant for visible telescopes to detect. It has a primary mirror that is 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in diameter, which is more than two and a half times larger than the primary mirror of the Hubble Space Telescope. This large mirror allows the JWST to collect much more light than previous telescopes, giving it much greater sensitivity and resolution.

One of the most unique features of the JWST is its sunshield, which is a large, five-layer screen that keeps the telescope cool. The sunshield will block out heat and light from the Sun, allowing the JWST to observe in the infrared without being overwhelmed by background radiation. The sunshield will also be responsible for maintaining the temperature of the telescope, which must be kept at a very cold -233°C (-387°F) to function properly.

JWST was launched on December 21, 2021, from French Guiana by an Ariane 5 rocket. The cost of the mission is around $8.8 billion. The James Webb Space Telescope is expected to be operational for around 10 years, although it could be operational for as long as 15 years.