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European researchers secure time on Hubble telescope successor

Image: NASA/European Space Agency

Researchers in European Space Agency member states will probe the mysteries of the universe

Researchers in Europe have secured access to 30 per cent of the available observation time in the first cycle of the James Webb Space Telescope, which is due to launch later this year as the successor to the Hubble Telescope, a much-prized research infrastructure that delivered stunning images of the universe.

A total of 1,172 proposals were made for a share of 6,000 available observation hours, with 266 proposals being successful, the European Space Agency announced on 30 March. Among these, 33 per cent were from ESA member states.

Antonella Nota, Head of the ESA Office at the Space Telescope Science Institute in the US city of Baltimore, praised European researchers’ performance in what ESA described as an “extremely competitive” and “rigorous” selection process.

“We are thrilled to see the great engagement and fantastic success of the European astronomical community in obtaining precious observation time on this extraordinary mission,” she said.

The telescope project is led by the US space agency Nasa, in partnership with ESA and the Canadian Space Agency. ESA said the successful proposals cover a “wide variety of science areas”, and that the project would be “the world’s premier space science observatory”, probing “the mysterious structures and origins of our universe”.