The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is slated to launch in 2019. It is still one year away from its launch and yet, it is undergoing rigorous testing on its mirror, sunshield and other components. According to the reports, the team of scientists that developed the space observatory will test the scientific payload i.e. massive 18 hexagonal mirrors with gold-plating that will help the telescope to peer into space with less disturbance.
Eric Smith, program director for Webb at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington D. C. said that constant rigorous testing at different stages of development have proven it’s caliber in achieving the goals set by NASA. He further said that the space observatory has undergone a number of tests earlier and has successfully conformed to all the tests with excellence.
This week, the team will conduct the third round of tests for the mirror where it will be subjected to harsh conditions that it will face during the launch and its journey towards space. The giant gold-plated mirror will be subjected to harsh temperature and extreme vibrations. The telescope was tested at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and Johnson Space Center in Houston where the scientists also analyzed the capability to unfold solar panels upon deployment. The space observatory is presently at the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California where it will be subjected to additional testing. The telescope will be shifted to Kor ou in French Guiana from where it will be affixed to the payload fairing in 2019.
Excerpts regarding James Webb Space Telescope from NASA
James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is touted as the replacement for Hubble Space Telescope, however, NASA states it as a successor. The space observatory is backed with 18 gold-plated hexagonal mirrors that will provide an exceptional view of the universe in the high infrared light. JWST is essentially a telescope that can view distant object since these objects have shifted from optical and UV to Infrared. It is a massive 22 meters by 12 meters telescope similar to the size of a tennis court while Hubble falls at 13.2 meters in length and 4.2 meters in diameter.
Unlike Hubble which orbits the Earth at an altitude of 570 km, JSWT has been designed to be deployed at Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange Point which is at the distance of 1.5 million km away from Earth. According to the illustration provided by NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to see baby galaxies since it is an infrared telescope and capable of viewing distant objects with astonishing clarity.