NASA Completes James Webb Space Telescope Primary Mirror Installation

Posted: Feb 6 2016, 4:09am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News


NASA Completes James Webb Space Telescope Primary Mirror Installation
Inside a massive clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland the James Webb Space Telescope team used a robotic am to install the last of the telescope's 18 mirrors onto the telescope structure. Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn
  • NASA Installs Primary Mirror for James Webb Space Telescope

NASA has constructed the primary mirror for the James Webb Space Telescope.

The 18th and last one of the segments on the primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope has been put in place. This will be the biggest and most powerful of space telescopes to ever get launched into outer space.

The last mirror installation will serve as a vital point in the timeline of space technology by NASA. The experts have been diligently trying to put these mirrors in their exact positions.

They in turn will concentrate light from the far pavilions of space. We will even be able to view sights from the early beginnings of the universe via this potent telescope.

We are now closer than we have ever been to discovering some of the mysteries of our universe. This telescope will unravel space like never before.

The complex piece of work that was the mirror got affixed onto the telescope via a robotic arm. Each six-sided mirror was 4.2 feet across.

This is about the size of a small piece of home furniture. Its weight was 88 pounds. Together the mirror consists of 18 segments which function in synch as a 21.3 foot ensemble. 

The assembly of this mirror took place over a period of ten years. It is a marvel of design, technology, expertise and skillful engineering. A large team of researchers and technicians contributed towards the creation of this mirror.

However, there remains more work in the pipeline. It is not finished just yet. Further optics will have to be fine-tuned and a lot of road-testing needs to be done before the telescope is space-worthy.

This telescope will have to take the stress and strain associated with a rocket launch. It is indeed a gift from NASA for the year 2016.   

The mirrors were constructed by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation which is based in Boulder, Colorado. As for the installation, it was carried out by Harris Corporation which is a subcontractor to Northrop Grumman. The team from Harris Corporation will be putting the finishing touches on the James Webb telescope.

“The Harris team will be installing the aft optics assembly and the secondary mirror in order to finish the actual telescope,” said Gary Matthews, director of Universe Exploration at Harris Corporation.

“The heart of the telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module, will then be integrated into the telescope. After acoustic, vibration, and other tests at Goddard, we will ship the system down to Johnson Space Center in Houston for an intensive cryogenic optical test to ensure everything is working properly.”

Finally, after some last minute tweaking, the giant telescope will be sent to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Here it will undergo further tests before it is launched from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. But that will be in the year 2018. The Webb telescope project was spearheaded by NASA in tandem with the ESA and Canadian Space Agency. 

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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