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Texas State University researchers eagerly await data from NASA's new $10 billion telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope is about a million miles away from Earth and astrophysicists around the world can't wait to find out what it has found.

SAN MARCOS, Texas — It took about a month, but NASA's new $10 billion telescope has finally reached its destination in deep space.

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It's about a million miles away from earth.

Scientists are hoping the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to see the most distant galaxies in the early universe, but it's not just NASA scientists who will get to use it.

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"Our team at Texas State was selected to be one of the very first teams to observe once JWST's ready for science," said Dr. Andrea Banzatti, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at Texas State University. "Without much humility, I should say that I wrote a great proposal."

Banzatti and his team are using nearly 20 hours of JWST observatory time to study how water is delivered to exoplanets.

"When you switch on a light, it's immediate, but if you let light travel in space for 500 years, you get to the places that we are going to study with JWST," Banzatti said.

"Oh my gosh!" KHOU 11 News reporter Xavier Walton said. "These are the planets you're trying to see if water was delivered to?"

"Exactly," Banzatti said. "For us, water means life. Life means water. If there's no water on the planet, there can be no life. That's why if we trace the story ... if we learn about the story of how water is delivered to planets then we may also say those planets are places where life may develop."

Where life may develop? That's a fundamental question that astrophysicists around the world are trying to answer using the world's most powerful telescope in space.

"If there's a planet at the right place and the right time then maybe, maybe, there could be the potential of life on it," said Dr. Anusha Kalyaan, a postdoctoral researcher at Texas State University. "We aren't actually looking for life on it, but we're looking at planets that may be able to support life one day."

The team at Texas State is obviously excited, but they'll have to wait a little longer. Data from the James Webb Space Telescope won't get back to Earth until early this summer.

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