Tuesday, August 21, 2012

James Webb Space Telescope

Artistic Image

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, and it will be almost three times the size of Hubble. JWST has been designed to work best at infrared wavelengths. This will allow it to study the very distant Universe, looking for the first stars and galaxies that ever emerged.A life-size model of the James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2018.

JWST will study every phase in the history of our universe, from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth.

The Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) on board the James Webb Space Telescope will be used by astronomers to study faint comets circling the Sun, newly born faraway planets, regions of obscured star formation, and galaxies near the edge of the universe. It must work at extremely low temperatures, of just 7 K above absolute zero or -266 °C. Here, MIRI is being placed in the thermal test chamber at RAL Space, Oxfordshire, UK.

Through a process called "Wavefront Sensing and Control," or WFSC, software aboard the James Webb Space Telescope will compute the best position for each of 18 mirrors and one secondary mirror, and then adjust the positions. Engineers used a 1/6 scale model to test the WFSC software.

Source: NASA, Space.com

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