The James Webb Space Telescope is the next major step up in space observation that will replace the Hubble Space Telescope that we’ve been using to observe distant celestial bodies since 1990. It will bring modern technology to the space exploration age, allowing us to see further and clearer than ever before.
In November of last year, the team behind the space telescope put the heart of the space telescope through cryogenic testing to ensure it would be able to handle the temperatures and pressures that it would be subjected to while in space. Recently, an update on the mirror surface was also reported, showing how the project is continuing along smoothly at a slow and steady pace.
Now, it would appear that the primary mirror assembly has officially reached completion, as NASA noted in a statement last week. This is a new milestone in the production of the new-age space telescope, and the final mirror was carefully attached by a precise robotic arm in Greenbelt, Maryland at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
“Scientists and engineers have been working tirelessly to install these incredible, nearly perfect mirrors that will focus light from previously hidden realms of planetary atmospheres, star forming regions and the very beginnings of the Universe,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “With the mirrors finally complete, we are one step closer to the audacious observations that will unravel the mysteries of the Universe.”
There is a grand total of 18 mirrors that have been placed together to create the primary mirror assembly. Each individual mirror is approximately 4.2 feet across and weighs 88 pounds. Together, the 18 mirrors create a surface 21.3 feet across, which will be used to capture some distant high-resolution shots in space.
The technology going into the James Webb Space Telescope will make it the most powerful space telescope ever to go up into space. It’ll be used by researchers and scholars to better understand the formation of galaxies, solar systems, planets, and more, and help us to study things both far and near.
It’s expected to go up into space as soon as 2018.