60% Americans believe NASA’s Webb telescope is a good investment

New York: Three out of five Americans believe that the James Webb telescope is a somewhat or very good investment, according to a new YouGov poll.

The $10 billion Webb telescope, is an international programme led by the NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Last week, the NASA released the first images from the powerful next-generation telescope — a treasure trove of full-colour images from deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date to cosmic cliffs, birthplace of stars, blackholes, a dying star’s final ‘performance’, as well as the atmosphere of a distant planet.

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A new YouGov poll asked 1,000 Americans to share their views on space exploration, NASA, and a new image of the Carina Nebula, which shows “the earliest, rapid phases of star formation”.

According to the poll, conducted July 14-18, seven in 10 Americans have a very or somewhat favourable view of NASA, just 13 percent view NASA unfavourably, and 16 percent say they don’t know.

More men (76 percent) than women (66 percent) have a favourable perspective on the space-research agency, while similar shares of Democrats (79 percent) and Republicans (72 percent) view NASA favourably.

Further, one-quarter (26 percent) also noted being unsure whether the Webb telescope, which was launched in December 2021, is a good investment. About 13 percent say it has been a bad investment.

Americans generally showed to be in favour of many of the space investments that were polled, including the satellite-based GPS (76 percent call it a good investment) and the Hubble space telescope (70 percent), largely referred to as the predecessor to Webb.

YouGov showed respondents the NASA-released picture of Carina Nebula and asked them to share their reaction to the image in an open-ended question.

Many called the photo “beautiful,” “pretty,” or “amazing,” while others wrote about the impact it has on their understanding of the universe.

Some also applauded NASA’s ongoing space exploration for its broader contribution to scientific knowledge and others said they look forward to seeing what else the telescope reveals.

The telescope’s first full-colour images and spectroscopic data culminates Webb’s commissioning process, and marks the official beginning of its science mission, the NASA said.

The telescope aims to solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it.

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