NASA starts 2 years testing phase of James Webb Telescope made of gold mirrors

The US space agency is all set to replace the iconic Hubble Space Telescope as scientists at NASA have completed the construction of world’s largest James Webb Telescope, a venture that was initiated two decades ago.

JWST has successfully received all 18 large mirrors and is now complete to become successor of the largest telescope HST, said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

“Today, we’re celebrating the fact that our telescope is finished, and we’re about to prove that it works,” said John Mather, an astrophysicist and senior project scientist for the telescope. “We’ve done two decades of innovation and hard work, and this is the result — we’re opening up a whole new territory of astronomy.”

James Webb will become the largest telescope in the space with lens thrice larger than the largest lens in space presently which gives it capability to capture 10x more details when compared to HST. It is to be noticed that Hubble’s mirror measures only 8-foot-diameter (2.4 meters). Below is the comparison of mirror size of Hubble telescope with James Webb telescope in reference to size of humans.

webb vs hubble

Each of the 18 mirrors can adjust its shape and direction once deployed in space for exploration. While deciding the material to manufacture the mirrors, engineers chose beryllium since it is ultra-lightweight and has stable thermal and mechanical properties at very low temperatures. In addition, every mirror has been coated with a thin layer of gold to reflect the infrared light. Features of Webb aren’t complete yet, the most interesting feature of the Hubble’s successor is its five layer sunshield that is of the size of a tennis court which has the capability to reduce the heat from coming from the Sun by a million times.

James Webb Space Telescope is being developed to study stars, galaxies, cosmos, study the evolution of our solar system, examine the formation of stellar systems and search alien life in exoplanets in other galaxies. It is expected that the data obtained from the Webb telescope will help science to take a giant leap ahead and will help us better understand our universe.

As per the NASA reports, the telescope is scheduled to launch in October 18 on an Ariane 5 rocket. European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency have also supported NASA in completing this $8.7 billion project.

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