In the future, the Hubble Space Telescope, which celebrated its 26-year anniversary for its launch and orbit this week, will soon be superseded by the next big thing – the James Webb Space Telescope.
The new space telescope has a primary mirror that is 6.5 meters in diameter, and dwarfs the tiny primary mirror of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Despite all the discoveries Hubble has brought to humanity in its service in the last couple of decades, the James Webb Space Telescope is equipped with additional, more powerful technology to see further and clearer than ever before with a wider field of view.
Technicians have officially peeled off the protective coating of the James Webb Space Telescope’s primary mirror this week at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, exposing the entire completed primary mirror for the first time since its assembly.
The mirror pieces, which are made from beryllium and coated in gold, can fold up to give the primary mirror a smaller size footprint and make it easier to transport on a spacecraft into space.
At the current stages, the James Webb Space Telescope is nearing assembly, after which it will be tested for the harsh conditions of space and space travel. The BBC reports it’s headed to a testing facility where it’ll be tested with motion and sound to simulate the rocket ride that it’ll experience on its way into space.
By testing it beforehand, scientists can ensure it’ll make it through the ride without any damage and ensure that the James Webb Space Telescope provides a long service life in outer space for years of space exploration to come.
Once testing is completed, final assembly will take place for more critical parts before it’s ready to launch into orbit around the Earth.
As you can imagine, astronomers are just itching to get this hunk of incredible technology into space so we can see what kinds of things can be uncovered with the bigger space telescope.