The James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope is a large 6.5 meter space telescope that will be launched hopefully soon. You can actually watch the JWST being assembled here. It’s really cool to visit everyday to see the progress. The JWST is optimized to study to study infrared light from the universe with four sensitive imaging and spectroscopic instruments. Some Some of you might not know what infrared light is, it’s electromagnetic radiation (which stars give off in large amounts) with a wavelength longer then that of visible light, measured from the normal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometers and extending to 300 micrometers. The JWST is being built by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems for NASA, ESA, and CSA. The JWST development is led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Some mission facts: It will be launched tentatively in 2018. The launch vehicle will be the “Ariane 5 ECA”. The diameter of the primary mirror is 6.5M or 21.3 ft. The material of the primary mirror is beryllium. Beryllium is being used because it has high flexural rigidity, thermal stability, thermal conductivity, and low density. These are huge factors in aerospace design. More dense equals more money. There will be 18 primary mirror segments. The mission duration will be 5-10 years. Check out this video of Joe Howard, the lead optical designer for the JWST project.


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