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Webb Telescope Mirrors Utilize Innovative Space Shielding | by NASA Goddard Photo and Video
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Webb Telescope Mirrors Utilize Innovative Space Shielding

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope isn’t covered by a protective tube like Hubble, instead technicians and engineers designed innovative shielding behind the primary mirrors — to keep out excess light.

 

Northrop Grumman blanket technician Ann Meyer and Ball Aerospace optical engineer Larkin Carey inspect the protective barrier behind Webb’s primary mirror. This lightweight blanketing plays an important role on the observatory as it blocks undesirable light from reaching the telescope’s sensitive infrared sensors.

 

To observe objects in the distant cosmos, and to do science that’s never been done before, the Webb telescope’s scientific instruments need to be cooled down to a temperature so cold, it would freeze the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere solid.

 

Intentionally chilling the telescope mirrors and instruments with innovative technologies and intelligent spacecraft design allows them to be far more sensitive to faint infrared light. Infrared can be described simply as heat, and if Webb’s components are cool, they are far more capable at observing faint heat signatures from the distant universe.

 

Image Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn

 

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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

 

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Taken on December 21, 2018