MAR 11, 2018 05:00 PM PDT

James Webb Space Telescope Will Search for Life's Building Blocks

The launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is quickly approaching, and as you can probably imagine, astronomers are beyond excited to take it for a spin and see what they might find.

In addition to gazing at distant exoplanets to assess their potential habitability, researchers also plan to use the James Webb Space Telescope for studying the origins of water in our universe.

An example of a star-forming region that astronomers plan to study with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

Image Credit: NASA

A recent announcement made by NASA discusses plans to use the upcoming space telescope to study molecular clouds in a nearby star-forming region called the Chameleon Complex. Dust particles situated there contain frozen life-supporting elements that clump together to form potentially-habitable exoplanets.

Among the things that astronomers will look for are ammonia, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, just to name a few. Fortunately, the James Webb Space Telescope offers a front-row seat to everything.

"If we can understand the chemical complexity of these ices in the molecular cloud, and how they evolve during the formation of a star and its planets, then we can assess whether the building blocks of life should exist in every star system," explained principal investigator Melissa McClure from the University of Amsterdam.

Related: The James Webb Space Telescope might tell us more about Proxima b

Given the circumstances, it’s no surprise that astronomers are interested in what’s occurring in these molecular clouds. Fortunately, the James Webb Space Telescope should have everything they need to discern the types of ices present within these regions. More importantly, it can do it with up to five times more precision than any space telescope before it.

“We plan to use a variety of Webb’s instrument modes and capabilities, not only to investigate this one region, but also to learn how best to study cosmic ices with Webb,” said Klaus Pontoppidan from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

An artist's rendition of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Image Credit: NASA

After the James Webb Space Telescope collects its initial data, it could take some time for researchers to analyze everything. Then again, these efforts could potentially answer vital questions concerning our understanding of the universe we live in.

It should be interesting to see what scientists learn from these observations when they take place.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 31, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 31, 2018
ESA's European Service Module is Now Ready to be Shipped to the U.S.
Deep space exploration is slowly becoming the primary focus of major space agencies around the globe, and NASA’s Orion spacecraft is poised to become...
NOV 06, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 06, 2018
Here's Where NASA Will Land its Martian InSight Mission Later This Month
In May, an Atlas V rocket blasted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base and lofted NASA’s InSight mission into space so that it could...
NOV 09, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 09, 2018
The Quest to Determine the Length of a Saturnian Day Becomes the Gift that Keeps on Giving
As humankind sets sight on the interstellar space, some may forget that there are still plenty of mysteries remained within our planetary backyard. Take Sa...
DEC 04, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 04, 2018
NASA's OSIRIS-REx Probe Arrives Safely at Asteroid Bennu
Following a two-year journey through our solar system, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (...
DEC 26, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 26, 2018
Are LIGO's Gravitational Wave Detections Real?
Albert Einstein first theorized about the existence of gravitational waves in 1916, and physicists have been on an endless scavenger hunt to observe them e...
JAN 13, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 13, 2019
Russian Space Agency Loses Control of its Spektr-R Radio Telescope
NASA isn’t the only space agency experiencing space telescope problems as of late. In an unforeseen turn of events, officials with Russia’s spa...
Loading Comments...