NASA's Webb telescope gets freezing summertime lodging in Houston

June 22, 2017
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope sits inside Chamber A at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope was placed in Johnson Space Center's historic Chamber A on June 20, 2017, to prepare for its final three months of testing in a cryogenic vacuum that mimics temperatures in space.

Engineers will perform the test to prove that the can operate in space at these temperatures. Chamber A will simulate an environment where the telescope will experience extreme cold—around 37 Kelvin (minus 236 degrees Celsius or minus 393 degrees Fahrenheit).

In space, the telescope must be kept extremely cold, in order to be able to detect the from very faint, distant objects. To protect the telescope from external sources of light and heat (like the sun, Earth, and moon), as well as from heat emitted by the observatory, a five-layer, tennis court-sized sunshield acts like a parasol that provides shade.

The sunshield separates the observatory into a warm, sun-facing side (reaching temperatures close to 185 degrees Fahrenheit) and a cold side (400 degrees below zero). The sunshield blocks sunlight from interfering with the sensitive telescope instruments.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope crossing the threshold into Chamber A at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston on June 21, 2017. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

Explore further: James Webb Space Telescope arrives at NASA's Johnson Space Center

Related Stories

Webb sunshield gives an 'open wide' for inspection

August 12, 2015

The sunshield on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is the largest part of the observatory—five layers of thin, silvery membrane that must unfurl reliably in space. The precision in which the tennis-court sized sunshield ...

James Webb Space Telescope sunshield test unfolds seamlessly

October 3, 2014

(Phys.org) —A major test of the sunshield for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope was conducted recently by Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California. For the first time, the five sunshield test layers were unfolded and ...

Recommended for you

Recurring martian streaks: flowing sand, not water?

November 20, 2017

Dark features on Mars previously considered evidence for subsurface flowing of water are interpreted by new research as granular flows, where grains of sand and dust slip downhill to make dark streaks, rather than the ground ...

Image: Hubble's cosmic search for a missing arm

November 20, 2017

This new picture of the week, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the dwarf galaxy NGC 4625, located about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs). The image, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.