Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Most Exciting Spot in the Cosmos Right Now Is French Guiana"

Nice juxtaposition:

a longtime manager at NASA, had already seen the animal a few times, hanging out in a strip of rich-green jungle, across the street from a hotel. “You see this kind of weird-looking tree right here?" [he] said, pulling the car over. And there was the sloth, motionless on a high branch, nearly hidden, with only a patch of gray, wiry fur peeking through the leaves.


[There] are hundreds, even thousands, of others from NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, which are working together on the project. Employees from Arianespace, the European launch company providing the rocket, are here too, and everyone is working alongside the local staff at the Guiana Space Center, the spaceport from which the observatory will lift off. There’s no exact count, but it’s a lot of people, all focused on the safe departure of a telescope that, when it opens its mirrors toward the cosmos, will see farther than Hubble. This is a mission that will peer deep into the universe and capture the light from the first stars and galaxies. A machine that is traveling so far into space that astronauts won’t be able to repair it.