NASA’s James Webb Telescope Prepares For Additional Testing

Posted: Mar 13 2018, 7:18am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 13 2018, 7:21am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

NASA’s James Webb Telescope Prepares for Additional Testing
Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

The science payload recently arrived at Northrop after testing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston

Engineers have removed combined optics and science instruments of James Webb Telescope from the shipping container at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems on March 8. The science payload will be combined at the Northrop facility and will undergo rigorous testing to ensure the structure and components can withstand the extreme stresses during launch. Northrop is expected to be the second-last destination of James Webb's journey before its launch in early 2019.

James Webb Telescope, the scientific successor of Hubble Space Telescope, will be the world's premier infrared space observatory of the next decade. It will solve mysteries of our solar system by probing distant planets around stars and other mysterious structures in the universe.

To fulfill its mission far from Earth, the telescope will carry a number of sophisticated instruments. Webb’s combined optics and science instruments are one of the two halves of the observatory that includes Webb’s iconic 6.5-meter primary mirror. The other half of the observatory, integrated spacecraft and sunshield, will also go through a series of tests to meet their required performance levels. Once the telescope is fully integrated, the entire observatory will undergo more tests during what is called observatory-level testing. All these tests will ensure that Webb is ready before launching into space.

“Extensive and rigorous testing prior to launch has proven effective in ensuring that NASA’s missions achieve their goals in space,” said Eric Smith, program director for Webb at NASA.“Webb is far along into its testing phase and has seen great success with the telescope and science instruments, which will deliver the spectacular results we anticipate.”

James Webb is the largest and most complex projects in NASA history and operating such an observatory in space has its own challenges. The telescope is built at room temperature on Earth but it will orbit through space nearly a million miles from Earth. At this level, its instruments should stay cool enough to detect chemical fingerprints from distant planets, stars and galaxies.

“At NASA, we do the seemingly impossible every day, and it's our job to do the hardest things humankind can think of for space exploration,” said Smith. “The way we achieve success is to test, test and retest, so we understand the complex systems and verify they will work.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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