[CBS] NASA's James Webb Space Telescope passes critical milestone

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[CBS] NASA's James Webb Space Telescope passes critical milestone

Postby Blín D'ñero » 16 Jan 2018, 21:20

NASA's $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope has completed critical end-to-end testing in a giant vacuum chamber at the Johnson Space Center, proving the telescope will work properly in the deep cold of space, bring starlight to a sharp focus and precisely track its astronomical targets when launched in 2019, engineers said Wednesday.

"The successful completion of this test represents a very significant milestone for JWST," said Bill Ochs, the telescope's project manager at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"It verified the alignment of the telescope to the science instruments, the image quality of the telescope as well as confirming the thermal performance of the telescope. We now have verified that NASA and its partners have an outstanding telescope and a spectacular set of science instruments."

Scheduled for launch in the spring of 2019 aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket, the James Webb Space Telescope is the most sophisticated -- and expensive -- space observatory ever designed, featuring a 21.3-foot-wide primary mirror made up of 18 adjustable gold-coated segments that dwarfs the Hubble Space Telescope's 7.9-foot-wide mirror.

Optimized to capture infrared light, JWST will operate behind a complex five-layer sunshade the size of a tennis court that will passively cool the telescope's mirrors and science instruments to around 50 degrees above absolute zero -- minus 388 degrees Fahrenheit. One instrument is equipped with a helium refrigerator that will cool it to just 7 degrees above absolute zero, a mind-numbing minus 447 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Full article at source (cbsnews.com)
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