NASA’s Next Space Telescope Hits New Milestone

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NASA’s Next Space Telescope Finally Gets a Win

The James Webb Space Telescope is size large. Everything about it is. The physical size is large. NASA’s budget for the project is large. The timetable is large. Even the delays and failures have been large. In fact, the telescope was originally slated to be in orbit by last year. So, yesterday, when the project engineers successfully deployed the secondary mirror system in a lab, they had reason to celebrate.

Watch: The James Webb Telescope Unfolds!

As you can see from the video, the secondary mirror system unfolds into position in order to reflect light from the much larger primary mirrors. The concept works in much the same way a parabolic satellite antenna works. With satellite dish, microwave radio signals are collected by the large dish and bounced back in a concentrated ray. That ray hits a device called a waveguide. Then, the waveguide sends the signal to all of the modems and processors that turn it into something useful. Space telescopes use the same concept to catch light.

Light from distant stars reflects from the parabolic curve of the honeycomb-shaped primary mirrors back to the secondary mirror in a concentrated, focused beam. The secondary mirror will then concentrate and focus the beam even further, sending it to a processing system back at the main body of the telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the next flagship for NASA’s next generation of ultra-powerful space telescopes. Of course, Hubble is the most famous, and it’s been serving humanity faithfully for nearly thirty years. From its data, we’ve made countless discoveries. The Webb telescope is much more powerful than Hubble. It will allow us to see farther into the universe than ever before. With Webb, we’ll be able to study even more distant suns and their systems, along with the early history of the universe. 

The secondary mirror test was one of the final steps before the two halves of the massive final assembly can be joined. Officials say NASA’s next space telescope could launch by 2021.

Read More: How to Explain How Old the Universe Is — For Dummies


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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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