I’m a big fan of the Hubble telescope. Beyond its obvious scientific merit, its photos simply have a lot of aesthetic and entertainment value. A nice place to browse through Hubble photos is HubbleSite.org

So, I was excited to hear that yesterday NASA officials announced that the Webb Space Telescope (Hubble’s successor) is on track to launch in 2013. As reported by Reuters:  

“Edward Weiler, head of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said after cost overruns a couple of years ago, the project has met every technical, cost, and schedule milestone for the past 20 months. During the earlier stages of development, the telescope’s launch date slipped from the originally scheduled 2011 to 2013.

The Webb telescope is envisioned as the first of a new generation of space observatories, set to orbit nearly a million miles from Earth to allow scientists to look further into the universe than ever before in five decades of space exploration.”

Here are two NASA illustrations that show what the Webb Space Telescope will look like and how it compares to Hubble:

Hubble diagram 

Hubble vs Webb 

This should give us a glimpse farther into space than we’ve ever seen before. Sound exciting to you?