NASA To Finish An Ambitious Telescope That Could Reach The Oldest, Farthest Stars

By Jiran , Oct 05, 2016 03:50 AM EDT

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is about to finish building the James Webb Space Telescope. The ambitious and innovative telescope is scheduled to be launched on Oct. 2018. It is planned to succeed the iconic Hubble Space Telescope.

Final Details Before The Telescope's Completion

Engineers and technicians are working on the final details for the James Webb Space Telescope's completion. The telescope is still at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

According to The Washington Post, technicians are working on the center's "clean room". Webb's Deputy Project Manager John Durning recently talked about the upcoming telescope.

He said that the James Webb Space Telescope will be instrumental in studying the oldest and farthest stars in the universe. It will help scientists explain how galaxies and planetary systems are formed.

The report also states that the telescope will still undergo final tests and additions. It is expected to be flown to Houston, Texas in March. French Guiana in South America will host the launch of the telescope.

Marc Sansebastian will supervise the whole process. He actually spent hours just on a small device for the telescope's motion test. Apparently, the device measures the Webb's movements.

He compared working inside the telescope to playing "the ultimate game of Operation". He admitted that it's both stressful and exciting.

The James Webb Space Telescope

The infrared telescope has a 6.5m primary mirror that consists 18 separate segments. According to NASA, these mirrors are made of ultra-lightweight beryllium.

Another innovative feature is its tennis court sized five-layer sunshield. It is able to reduce the Sun's heat by more than a million times. It is also equipped with detectors that can record even the faintest signals. The programmable microshutters aid in observing up to 100 objects simultaneously.

NASA, the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency have collaborated for this project. The James Webb Space Telescope will be operated by the Space Telescope Science Institute after its launch to space.

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