NASA's gold-mirrored, USD 8 bn Webb Space Telescope

Washington: The world's most expensive telescope is parked for the moment in Greenbelt, Maryland, shrouded in a protective tent at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. In just two years, this long-delayed, $8 billion, cosmos-penetrating instrument is supposed to be nearly a million miles from Earth.

If it works, the James Webb Space Telescope will collect the oldest light in the universe, emitted soon after the big bang, when the first stars lit up and the first galaxies began to form. It will study black holes lurking at the center of galaxies.

It will scrutinise the light from planets around distant stars and look for atmospheres you'd expect to see on worlds rioting with life. But that's only after an epic journey.

The year when the telescope will be sent off into space

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