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.
To fit inside the Ariane 5 rocket that Webb will ride to space, some of its mirrors are designed to fold, and deploy to full size once in orbit. Shown here: technician Ricardo Pantoja performs a routine inspection of NASA Webb’s innovative blanketing along the connection point of its deployable primary mirror segments.
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 credit: NASA/Chris Gunn
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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