James Webb Space Telescope Is Complete

Posted: Nov 3 2016, 7:34am CDT | by , Updated: Nov 3 2016, 7:36am CDT , in Latest Science News


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James Webb Space Telescope is Complete
Engineers conduct a white light inspection on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope in the clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn
  • NASA Completes World's Largest Space Telescope
  • Expected to Launch in Two Years

The James Webb telescope center of curvature pre-test was accomplished by technicians at NASA premises.

Having an optical measurement of the Webb telescope’s mirror before testing begins is something that is very necessary. As for the tests, they will copy the jarring noises and shocks that the telescope will most likely be receiving in outer space when it is sent there via a rocket.

The environment in outer space is harsh indeed and it could virtually alter the giant mirror of the telescope for the worst. Yet the Webb telescope has been designed with these factors in mind.

The equipment that goes on to form the core of the telescope will be tested and re-tested till it can be honed to a razor blade. The test will reveal any imperfections in the mirror. It consists of an interferometer.

This will measure the shape of the mirror of the telescope. The waves of visible light are a thousandth of a millimeter in length. The optical system of the Webb telescope is something to which particular attention needs to be paid.

Measuring the mirror’s dimensions by means of a laser leads to no damage in the form of scratches on the mirror, according to NASA.

The wavelengths of light are used to measure the mirror. The interferometer comes in handy here. An interferometer gets its name from the fact that it measures light waves in their ripple effect when they interfere with each other.

Throughout the test, the temperature and humidity levels were kept constant in the room. Yet despite these precautions, there are some small vibrations in the room leading to jitters.

However, the interferometer is a high speed one and takes 5000 frames per second. This is quicker than the rate of the jitters. Therefore, accurate results are possible.

The center of curvature test looks into the shape of the major mirror by comparing light reflected from it with a hologram. The difference is carefully noted down by precision-based instruments.

The measurements involved in thie test show us that the whole ordeal is quite a challenge. The past half a decade has been spent in a virtual preparation for this test.

The test has criteria that are so super-sentsitive that mere whispers in the room where the giant mirror is placed send it into vibrations that are then measured by the interferometer. This telescope will be the most powerful of its kind once it is launched into outer space via a rocket.

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