Imagine being able to see deep inside the makeup of the galaxy, or better yet, deeper inside of a star than ever before. That is where the James Webb telescope comes in with its next groundbreaking mission planned for October 31, 2021. Some of James Webb’s past tests included the March 2016 durability experiments on the football field size solar mirrors that will be used to reflect light from galaxies and stars back to NASA for readings. The secondary mirrors for the telescope were also installed that year, along with the optics subsystems and completing the cryogenic testing on the mirrors. The telescope itself completed construction in November 2016. Initial launches for planned in 2017 and 2018 respectively, but later postponed to the date currently set. In early October of this year, the project passed yet another milestone bringing it one step closer to its goal.
The passing of environmental tests on the mirrors and the telescope in general. Everything from temperature to durability, to maintaining stability during the elements of ever-changing galaxies and planets. Acoustic and vibration tests were also done at Northrop Grumman’s lab in California. Northrop Grumman are the minds responsible for building the telescope for NASA. When Webb is finally ready it will be folded and packed up before beginning the journey to French Guiana for launch. These tests were also to ensure that the telescope could even survive its rocket journey to space, which scientists are now confident that it will. Webb will orbit approximately one million miles from Earth. The initial rocket launch is expected to be the most perilous part of the entire mission for the telescope.
Northrop Grumman, along with the European space agency and the Canadian space agency have all partnered in collaboration with NASA to create James Webb and see its massively ambitious vision come to fruition. After the launch, the operation of the telescope will be handled by the Space Telescope Science Institute.
For further information please visit NASA’s website.