James Webb Space Telescope's golden mirror unveiled

James Webb Space Telescope's golden mirror unveiled
Standing tall and glimmering gold inside NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center's clean room in Greenbelt, Maryland is the James Webb Space Telescope primary mirror. It will be the largest yet sent into space. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

NASA engineers recently unveiled the giant golden mirror of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope as part of the integration and testing of the infrared telescope.

The 18 mirrors that make up the primary were individually protected with a black covers when they were assembled on the telescope structure. Now, for the first time since the was completed, the covers have been lifted.

Standing tall and glimmering gold inside NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center's clean room in Greenbelt, Maryland, this mirror will be the largest yet sent into space. Currently, engineers are busy assembling and testing the other pieces of the telescope.

Scientists from around the world will use this unique observatory to capture images and spectra of not only the first galaxies to appear in the early universe over 13.5 billion years ago, but also the full range of astronomical sources such as star forming nebulae, exoplanets, and even moons and planets within our own Solar System. To ensure the mirror is both strong and light, the team made the mirrors out of beryllium. Each mirror segment is about the size of a coffee table and weighs approximately 20 kilograms (46 pounds). A very fine film of vaporized gold coats each segment to improve the mirror's reflection of infrared light. The fully assembled mirror is larger than any rocket so the two sides of it fold up. Behind each mirror are several motors so that the team can focus the telescope out in space.

This widely anticipated telescope will soon go through many rigorous tests to ensure it survives its launch into space. In the next few months, engineers will install other key elements, and take additional measurements to ensure the telescope is ready for space.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful ever built. Webb will study many phases in the history of our universe, including the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets similar to Earth, as well as the evolution of our own solar system. It's targeted to launch from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket in 2018. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.


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Image: Final mirror installed in James Webb Space Telescope

Citation: James Webb Space Telescope's golden mirror unveiled (2016, April 27) retrieved 25 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-04-james-webb-space-telescope-golden.html
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Apr 27, 2016
I'm surprised that they could have it so exposed in an area where someone could accidentally drop something from above onto the mirror.

Apr 27, 2016
I usually don't go to caps, but this deserves it:

YEAH, BABY!

We will find out an incredible amount of stuff with this instrument. We will see back almost all the way to the surface of last scattering. We will resolve galaxies that are just little dots with no features in the Hubble. And its infrared capabilities will let us look through the dust in our galaxy at places that we simply can't see today.

The golden age of cosmology and astrophysics is about to begin. Pardon the pun.

Apr 27, 2016
I would have liked to have seen J.W. built in outer space (further out than ISS) in a sort of "dry dock" for just that purpose with the idea that there would've been less jarring and weight of gravity on its components. The dock itself wouldn't have had to be very elaborate, just bare bones and a space for living quarters, a spacecraft docking & berthing, and a tool shop alongside. And, of course, some power could've come from a PV system.
I mentioned it to a colleague years ago, but was told that it wasn't possible, thus the necessity to outfit her for the long haul to F.G. for the launch.

Apr 28, 2016
I would have liked to have seen J.W. built in outer space (further out than ISS) in a sort of "dry dock" for just that purpose with the idea that there would've been less jarring and weight of gravity on its components.


It costs about a billion dollars for each module put in LEO. ISS was $100 billion over a decade. J.W. is way over budget at $10 billion, and already a decade late. Easier to design in for jarring than putting up a dry dock.

Apr 28, 2016
I noticed those cameras on the platform, which led to this.
http://www.jwst.n...cam.html

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