HomeNASANASA — Meet Our Superhero Area Telescopes!

NASA — Meet Our Superhero Area Telescopes!

The James Webb Area Telescope will peer at
the primary stars and galaxies as a cosmic time machine, look past to distant
worlds, and unlock the mysteries of the universe. However earlier than it may possibly do any of
these issues, it must “prepare” for touring to its vacation spot — 1 million
miles away from Earth!

So how does Webb prepare for area whereas
it’s nonetheless on the bottom? Apply makes excellent. Totally different parts of the
telescope had been first examined on their very own, however now a fully-assembled Webb is placing all of its
coaching collectively. Listed below are 10 sorts of assessments that Webb went via to organize
for its epic journey:

1. Sounding Off

A rocket launch is 100 occasions extra intense and
4 occasions louder than a rock live performance! (That’s in keeping with Paul Geithner, Webb’s
deputy challenge supervisor – technical.) To simulate that degree of utmost noise,
Webb’s full construction was blasted with highly effective sound waves throughout its
observatory-level acoustic testing in August.


2. Shaking It Up

Webb may also should
face up to a super-bumpy
journey because it launches — like a aircraft takeoff, however with much more shaking!
The observatory was rigorously folded into its launch place, positioned onto a
shaker desk, and vibrated from 5 to 100 occasions per second to match the speeds
of Webb’s launch automobile, an Ariane 5 rocket.


3. All
Programs Go

In July, Webb carried out a rigorous take a look at of its
software program and electrical programs as a completely linked telescope. Every line of
code for Webb was examined after which retested as completely different strains had been mixed
into Webb’s bigger software program parts. To
full this take a look at, Webb workforce members had been staffed 24 hours a day for 15
consecutive days!


Hanging Out

After launch, Webb is designed to unfold (like
origami in reverse) from its folded launch place into its operational type. With out
recharging, the telescope’s onboard battery would solely final a couple of hours, so it
might be as much as Webb’s 20-foot photo voltaic array to harness the Solar’s
power for the entire telescope’s electrical wants. To imitate the zero-gravity
situations of area, Webb technicians examined the photo voltaic array by hanging it


5. Time
to Stretch

The tower connects the higher and decrease halves of
Webb. As soon as Webb is in area, the tower will lengthen 48 inches (1.2 meters)
upward to create a spot between the 2 halves of the telescope. Then all 5
layers of Webb’s sunshield will slowly unfurl and stretch out,
forming what’s going to appear like an enormous kite in area. Each the tower and sunshield
will assist completely different sections of Webb preserve their ultimate temperatures.


For these steps, engineers designed an
ingenious system of cables, pulleys and weights to counter the results of
Earth’s gravity.

6. Dance of the Mirrors

Unfolding Webb’s mirrors will contain some
dance-like choreography. First, a help construction will gracefully unfold to
place the round secondary mirror out in entrance of the first
mirror. Though small, the secondary mirror will play an enormous position: focusing
gentle from the first mirror to ship to Webb’s scientific devices.


Subsequent, Webb’s iconic major mirror will absolutely lengthen so that each one
18 hexagonal segments are in view. At 6.5 meters (21 toes 4-inches) throughout, the
mirror’s huge measurement is vital for seeing in sharp element. Like in tower and
sunshield testing, the Webb workforce offloaded the burden of each mirrors with cables,
pulleys and weights in order that they unfolded as if weightless in area.


7. Do
Not Disturb

Earlier than a aircraft takeoff, it’s necessary for us to show
off our cell telephones to guarantee that their electromagnetic waves gained’t
intrude with navigation indicators. Equally, Webb needed to take a look at that its
scientific devices wouldn’t disrupt the electromagnetic surroundings of the
spacecraft. This fashion, once we get pictures again from Webb, we’ll know that we’re
seeing precise objects in area as a substitute of attainable blips attributable to
electromagnetic interference. These assessments happened within the Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) Lab, which
seems like a futuristic sound sales space! As a substitute of absorbing sound, nevertheless, the
partitions of this chamber assist maintain electromagnetic waves from bouncing round.


Phoning Earth

How will Webb know the place to go and what to
take a look at? Due to Webb’s Floor Section Exams, we all know that we’ll be
capable of “speak” to Webb after liftoff. Within the first six hours after launch, the
telescope must seamlessly swap between completely different communication networks and
stations positioned all over the world. Flight controllers ran via
these complicated procedures in fall 2018 to assist be sure that launch might be a
easy success.


After Webb reaches its vacation spot,
operators will use the Deep Area Community, a world array of large
radio antennas, to relay instructions that inform Webb the place to look. To check this
course of when Webb isn’t in area but, the workforce used particular gear to
imitate the actual radio hyperlink that can exist between the observatory and the community.

9. Scorching
and Chilly

Between 2017 and 2019, Webb engineers
individually examined the 2 halves of the telescope in several thermal vacuum
chambers, that are big, climate-controlled rooms drained of air to match the
vacuum of area. In testing, the spacecraft bus and sunshield half had been uncovered
to each boiling scorching and freezing chilly temperatures,
just like the situations that they’ll encounter throughout Webb’s journey.

However Webb’s mirrors and devices will want
to be colder than chilly to function! This different half of Webb was examined within the
historic Chamber A, which was used to check Apollo Moon
mission {hardware} and particularly upgraded to suit Webb. Over about
100 days, Chamber A was steadily cooled down, held at cryogenic temperatures
(about minus 387 F, or minus 232.8 C), after which warmed again as much as room


10. Cosmic
Imaginative and prescient

When the Hubble Area Telescope was first despatched
into area, its pictures had been blurry because of a flaw with its mirror. This error
taught us in regards to the significance of comprehensively checking Webb’s “eyes” earlier than
the telescope will get out of attain.

Moreover coaching for area survival, Webb additionally
frolicked in Chamber A present process mirror alignment and optical testing. The workforce
used a chunk of take a look at {hardware} that acted as a supply of synthetic starlight to
confirm that gentle would journey accurately via Webb’s optical system.


Whew! That’s numerous testing beneath Webb’s
belt! Webb is ready to launch in October 2021 from Kourou, French Guiana. However
till then, it’s nonetheless acquired loads of coaching left, together with a remaining spherical of
deployment assessments earlier than being shipped to its launch location.

Study extra in regards to the James Webb Area Telescope HERE, or observe the mission on Fb,Twitter and Instagram.

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