NOV 07, 2016 07:34 AM PST

More Components for the JWST Completed Ahead of 2018 Launch

NASA currently relies on the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the cosmos, but the next generation of space observation technology is underway.
 

An artist's rendition of the James Webb Space Telescope.

 Image Credit: JWST/STScI

Known as the James Webb Space Telescope, the new space observation tool has been under construction for years and is slated to be launched in 2018. As more components come together for the finished product, the tennis ball court-sized space telescope is getting closer to its completion goals.

The heart of the space telescope was completed some time ago, where it underwent cryogenic testing to ensure it could handle the hard space environment, but the heart alone isn't enough to have a working space telescope.
 
Now finished are both the primary mirror and the sun shielding layers.
 

The primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope is completed.

 Image Credit: JWST/STScI

The primary mirror is one of the most important parts of the space telescope, as it allows images to be captured and processed via the space telescope’s onboard computer center. There, digital processing will take place and then it will beam the images back to Earth for astronomers to look at.
 
There is a grand total of 18 hexagonal segments making up the huge 21.3-foot primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope, and each of them is made out of beryllium and coated in gold to make it possible to capture even the faintest glimmers of infrared light from deep space.
 
Those sun shields are important too, because they allow the space telescope to operate safely despite all of the powerful Sun rays that will bombard the unit as it performs its tasks. It prevents the heat from getting to the unit’s sensors and provides more accurate imagery.
 

The sunshields that will protect the sensitive sensor equipment on the James Webb Space Telescope.

 Image Credit: Northrop Grumman/NASA

Each layer of the sun shield is explained by NASA to be as thin as a human hair. The five kapton sun shield layers are stacked on top of one another, and the heat is reduced from one layer to the next. It can make a difference by as much as 570º Fahrenheit between the hot side and the cold side of the James Webb Space Telescope.
 
Although the James Webb Space Telescope is as large as a tennis ball court, it will be folded like a nice piece of origami so it can fit onto a transport rocket. Once it reaches space in 2018, it will unfold and take its full size just beyond the Moon, where it will spend its days observing the universe.
 


Source: NASA (1), (2)

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 02, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 02, 2018
Here's Why Harvard Scientists Believe Oumuamua Could Have Been an Alien Spacecraft
  When an interstellar object came sailing through our solar system last year, it astonished astronomers because they couldn’t quite categorize...
DEC 19, 2018
Technology
DEC 19, 2018
Deep Learning Improves Cloud Detection Methods
To understand the workings of earth systems, atmospheric scientists often search data images for the clouds as part of their research. However, the manual...
DEC 22, 2018
Videos
DEC 22, 2018
Winter solstice, full moon, and a meteor shower all in 24 hours!
Yesterday marked the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the official start to winter in the Northern hemisphere. But yesterday’s solst...
DEC 28, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 28, 2018
What's a Dyson Sphere and How to Build One?
Proposed by physicist Freeman Dyson in 1960, a Dyson sphere is a speculative megastructure that harvests a star's energy by partially or completely sur...
JAN 16, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 16, 2019
Developing Powerful Telescopes for Space Observations is No Easy Task
Astronomers use a variety of telescopes to observe the cosmos. Some orbit the Earth to get the most precise possible view without obstructions from Earth&r...
JAN 22, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 22, 2019
Astronomers Probe the Disintegrating Exoplanet K2-22b for Answers
Astronomers around the globe are continuously scanning the cosmos to identify and study the unique characteristics of distant exoplanets. One of the ways t...
Loading Comments...