James Webb’s Space Telescope went through all the tests that awaited him in the cryogenic chamber of the Lyndon B. Johnson Flight Center. Now the device will be transported to the place where it receives its sun shield.
Last week James Webb’s Space Telescope, the future successor of the Hubble Space Telescope, was removed from the gigantic, cryogenic test chamber in which it stayed since July this year. This chamber is located within the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. The device spent about 100 days in it, where it was tested at very low temperatures. In this way, an attempt was made to see if it would be able to survive in the cold cosmic space. Now the telescope will be transported to California, where another round of tests will be waiting for him.
James Webb’s Space Telescope will be carried out in space in the spring of 2019, which is later than originally planned. The start is to come from French Guiana. This machine will become the most powerful space telescope that has been built so far and will allow scientists to look at even further corners of the universe.
The history of James Webb’s Space Telescope dates back to 1996, although preliminary plans for seeking replacement for Hubble appeared already in 1980. Initially, it was called the New Generation Space Telescope, but it changed in 2002. Initially, JWST was to start its work in 2007, but the growing baskets and numerous delays significantly inhibited the development of the project. The American Congress almost canceled it in 2011, trying to reduce the NASA’s annual budget. Fortunately, this plan was rejected, and the construction of the telescope was supported by additional funds.
According to NASA, JWST is to “explore each stage of the history of the cosmos.” First, it will serve as a powerful time machine that can look back over 13.5 billion years with infrared vision. Scientists predict that thanks to it, they will be able to see the first stars and galaxies that form in the early Universe. With its help, researchers will also be able to compare early galaxies to today’s, shedding light on the evolution process that has been going on for billions of years.
What’s more, JWST has the ability to look straight through huge clouds of dust, which the Hubble Space Telescope could not. This will allow scientists to see exactly where stars and planetary systems are born. His thermal camera will also be used to look deep into parts of stars and nebulae. Interestingly, the telescope will help researchers also learn a bit more about exoplanet atmospheres when looking for extraterrestrial life.
However, before the telescope is launched into space, NASA has to check whether it will be able to survive the start itself and what will happen later in space – extremely low temperatures, cosmic rays, and more. That’s why the device is subjected to numerous tests. Before it found itself in the cryogenic chamber, it underwent a series of acoustic and vibratory tests at the Space Flight Center named after Robert H. Goddard.
The next stop of the telescope will be one of Northrop Grumman’s corporate headquarters, located in Redondo Beach, California. There, the main mirror of the telescope will be connected to its “sunshield” – a complex structure that is supposed to prevent overheating of the equipment. The fact that JWST is designed for infrared observation means that it must work at very low temperatures.
NASA expects that the installation of a sun visor will be an extremely complex process. Among other things, this is why the telescope will not start in 2018, but only in 2019.