The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States has successfully completed building the largest space telescope — one that is 100 times powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope and may find the first galaxies that were formed in the early universe.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be the successor of NASA’s 26-year-old Hubble.
The Webb telescope’s infrared cameras are so sensitive that it needs to be shielded from the rays of the Sun. A five-layer sunshield of the size of a tennis court will prevent the heat from interfering with the telescope’s infrared sensors.
The layers work together to reduce the temperatures between the hot and cold sides of the observatory by about 298 degrees Celsius. Each successive layer of the sunshield, made of kapton, is cooler than the one below.
The space agency has also made the first important optical measurement of James Webb Space Telescope fully assembled primary mirror, called a Center of Curvature test.
“This is the only test of the entire mirror where we can use the same equipment during a before and after test,” said Ritva Keski-Kuha, NASA’s Deputy telescope manager for Webb.
“This test will show if there are any changes or damages to the optical system,” Keski-Kuha said.
The space telescope will provide images of the first galaxies ever formed, and explore planets around distant stars.
It is a joint project of the NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.