Hubble’s successor, the James Webb telescope is still being tested before being launched in 2018. Until then, it will be placed in a thermal vacuum room. In a similar vacuum chamber, specialists have tested Apollo crafts. The James Webb Telescope will be thoroughly tested for 90 days in the same frigid conditions which are similar to the ones it will experience into Earth’s orbit.
The James Webb Telescope was scheduled to be launched in 2018
The purpose of this telescope is to discover the first stars which shine in the Universe. To accomplish this aim, the observatory will be equipped with a massive mirror and some tools capable of detecting the slightest celestial objects. Scientists took over twenty years to develop this innovative telescope, and now it is undergoing the most complex stages of its developmental time span.
Any technical glitch would severely damage the telescope’s launch preparedness. During the last year, the structure of the main telescope was developed, with its 18 beryllium-gold mirror pieces at the NASA’s Goddard Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. This structure is outfitted with four observing instruments which are placed inside a cage on the back side of the big reflector.
NASA is taking JWST to its Goddard Center for further testing
The James Web Telescope has just finished acoustic and vibration tests at NASA’s Goddard Center. These tests were bound to imitate the roar and the shaking of the carrier rocket when in outer space. The rocket will be provided by the European Space Agency, and it will be named Ariane 5.
Astronomers plan to launch the James Webb telescope to fly towards NASA’s Johnson Centre at the end of April or the beginning of May. When it gets there, it will be placed in Chamber A. This facility is one of the biggest ones in the world used for testing, being also the only one which can handle the scale of the telescope.
Engineers’ purpose is to test the mirrors of the telescope to make sure all the instruments and mirrors will work at the same time when the JWST will be in space. The Chamber A is bound to verify whether the telescope will function properly in space by setting a super-cold temperature of about -260 Celsius. Begona Vila, an instrument systems engineer for JWST, claimed that when the temperature drops very low, they will extend the mirrors and see if they work properly.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia