Nasa is readying to launch its $10bn James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) on Christmas morning, which is set to revolutionise how we view space.
The telescope, known as Webb, will be the first major space observatory since the Hubble Space Telescope, which launched more than three decades ago.
It is also Nasa’s attempt to unravel the mysteries of how the universe came to be.
“We have this 13.8bn-year story — the universe — and we’re missing sort of a few key paragraphs in the very first chapter of the story,” a scientist on Nasa’s Webb team, Amber Straughn said last month.
“JWST was designed to help us find those first galaxies.”
With the largest mirror ever built for space-based observation, Webb will be 100 times more powerful than Hubble.
It has been in the works for some time – first being conceived in the 90s and originally anticipated to cost $500m and be ready to launch 2011.
Now a decade later, Webb is ready and will take off on board the Ariane 5, which should push the telescope into space within 27 minutes.
However, it will be another six months before the telescope can begin conducting science.
The infrared telescope will also study the atmospheres of potentially habitable planets – in a bid to answer: is there other life out there?
Webb will also search for the origins of supermassive black holes, as well as debris of neutron-star collisions.