Cryogenic Testing Completed For NASA’s Webb Telescope Mirrors
Imaged Above: An engineer examines the Webb telescope primary mirror Engineering Design Unit segment in the clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn.
I hope I’m not the only one who squeals like an avid school child at the sight of any incoming news on the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, The James Webb Space Telescope. So it’s no surprise that as NASA engineers grow closer to finishing this wonderful piece of technology, so does our interest in its completion, and while it isn’t quite finished, the fact that it was saved from an almost imminent death due to lack of funds makes the works being put into it all the more appreciated. You thought Hubble took some amazing shots of the cosmos? Wait until this guy starts its orbit:
Cryogenic testing is complete for the final six primary mirror segments and a secondary mirror that will fly on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. The milestone represents the successful culmination of a process that took years and broke new ground in manufacturing and testing large mirrors.
“The mirror completion means we can build a large, deployable telescope for space,” said Scott Willoughby, vice president and Webb program manager at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “We have proven real hardware will perform to the requirements of the mission.”
The Webb telescope has 21 mirrors, with 18 mirror segments working together as a large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) primary mirror. Each individual mirror segment now has been successfully tested to operate at 40 Kelvin (-387 Fahrenheit or -233 Celsius).
“Mirrors need to be cold so their own heat does not drown out the very faint infrared images,” said Lee Feinberg, NASA Optical Telescope Element manager for the Webb telescope at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “With the completion of all mirror cryogenic testing, the toughest challenge since the beginning of the program is now completely behind us.” —NASA
Some Additional Good News on The JWST Front:
Hubble Repairman To Lead NASA Science Division
It’s official: NASA has named John Grunsfeld to head up the science mission directorate at the agency. One month ago, Nature was tipped that the astrophysicist and five-time shuttle astronaut had been tapped to head up the US$5-billion division.
As a veteran repairman on the Hubble telescope servicing missions, and as the current deputy director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, Grunsfeld should be well equipped to deal with the agency’s flagship mission: the $8-billion James Webb Space Telescope. He will take the reins on 4 January. — Nature