NASA’s Webb Space Telescope Has First Successful Mirror Installation

Posted: Nov 30 2015, 9:29am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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NASA’s Webb Space Telescope has First Successful Mirror Installation
An engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center worked to install the first flight mirror onto the telescope structure at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn

The James Webb Space Telescope has the first eighteen segment mirror installed successfully and the engineers and scientists are glad.

The international project by the name of ‘James Webb Space Telescope’ is led by NASA with its partners, European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency. NASA has been working with the international science community to explore the solar system and beyond. The interim of the project is to unravel mysteries that intrigue mankind.

One of many of the project’s endeavor is to develop several innovative technologies for the Webb Telescope. It is targeted for launch in 2018. It is also the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington elaborated that the James Webb Space Telescope will be the elite astronomical observatory dominating space exploration in the next decade.

“The James Webb Space Telescope will be the premier astronomical observatory of the next decade,” said John Grunsfeld.

“This first-mirror installation milestone symbolizes all the new and specialized technology that was developed to enable the observatory to study the first stars and galaxies, examine the formation stellar systems and planetary formation, provide answers to the evolution of our own solar system, and make the next big steps in the search for life beyond Earth on exoplanets.”

Reportedly, NASA has been successful in installing the first of 18 flight mirrors onto the James Webb Space Telescope. This marks the beginning of a critical piece of the observatory’s construction. According to reports the installation took place in the clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland this week.

“After a tremendous amount of work by an incredibly dedicated team across the country, it is very exciting to start the primary mirror segment installation process" said Lee Feinberg, James Webb Space Telescope optical telescope element manager at Goddard. "This starts the final assembly phase of the telescope."

The engineering team made use of a robotic arm to lift and lower the hexagonal-shaped segment. The segment itself measures just over 4.2 feet (1.3 meters) across and weighs approximately 88 pounds (40 kilograms).

The 18 primary mirror segments will work together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) mirror after being pieced together. More features will include the 18 separate segments unfolding and adjusting to shape after launch. The mirrors are made of ultra-lightweight beryllium chosen for its thermal and mechanical properties at cryogenic temperatures.

"There have many significant achievements for Webb over the past year, but the installation of the first flight mirror is special," said Bill Ochs, James Webb Space Telescope project manager.

"This installation not only represents another step towards the magnificent discoveries to come from Webb, but also the culmination of many years of effort by an outstanding dedicated team of engineers and scientists."

The full installation is expected to be complete early next year. Webb will study every phase in the history of our universe, including the cosmos’ first luminous glows, the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, and the evolution of our own solar system.

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