Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Journal Science (AAAS) Selects The 2022 Science Breakthrough Of The Year

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Astronomy, Cosmology, Earth & Space Science, History of Science

Ed Hessler

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has chosen the JWST for this honor. A few items that caught my eye from the story:

--Two "mosts": most complex science mission ever put into space and most expensive at $10 billion.

--Construction took 20 years and faced multiple setbacks. Among the challenges was designing and constructing a fold up mirror (fully extended it is 6.5 meters across ~ 22'), keeping the telescope cold, to prevent its warmth from spoiling the infrared observations, developing an unfolding multilayered sunshield (size of a tennis court) to keep the JWST at minus 233 degrees C or -387 F and a mechanical cryocooler to chill one instrument to - 266 degrees C or ~ -447 F.

--Launch: December 25, 2021 with data collection beginning on June 21, 2022

--Engineers determined that there were 344 critical steps, anyone of which could have doomed the mission had it gone wrong.

--Some results include being able to see the universe anew, more than 22,000 scientific papers and counting, that the universe is now roughly estimated to be 50 million years older than previously thought (possibly older when analysis of another galaxy is completed), the galactic nursery is more crowded than previously thought, the capture of the spectrum of starlight that filters through an exoplanet's atmosphere, detection of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide around an exoplanet (never previously detected).

--This is, the announcement notes "a time of wonders."

The announcement of AAAS's 2022 science breakthrough may be viewed here and some of those wonders can be experience both through the text and through the images included. 

And if you are interested about the AAAS, see their homepage which is worth a gander or two. AAAS is the largest scientific membership organization in the world.


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