The James Webb Space Telescope, a part of the next big and strong space observatory from NASA, just left a giant, thermal vacuum chamber in the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The JWST was removed last week after being inside the chamber for around 100 days since July, where it was tested under extremely cold temperatures, to observe if it was set for facing the frigid conditions of space.
The Most Powerful Space Telescope
The JWST will be the most powerful space telescope ever made by man. It will orbit a million miles from the planet and allow researchers to observe the deepest corners of the universe and help them know more about primeval galaxies.
The space telescope has a primary mirror which is six times the size of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. With its extremely high resolution, JWST will have the ability to study the atmosphere of exoplanets. However, before it is launched from French Guiana, the U.S. space agency has to ensure that the telescope can withstand the launch as well as the unfriendly space environment.
The JWST has already undergone vibrational and acoustic tests at Maryland’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which simulated the conditions of the launched spacecraft carrying the telescope might go through. The telescope will now make its way to Northrop Grumman, California where it will be subjected to another round of testing before being launched sometime in 2019.
Aerospace company Northrop Grumman is the main defense contractor that has been constructing the space telescope for NASA. The next phase of JWST’s development will see its main mirror being attached with a sun shield, which has been designed to prevent overheating. It is built with thin layers of Kapton, a material which will expand and obstruct the sun’s intense heat.
JWST’s First Scientific Targets
Once it is launched in 2019, the JSWT is expected to start sending results by the end of that year. The space telescope’s initial scientific targets will include some of the oldest observable galaxies, exoplanets, supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies, as well as Jupiter and its moons.
The Space Telescope Science Institute’s Director, Ken Sembach has picked 13 observation plans last month from over 100 proposals submitted by global science teams for the chance to be among the first users of JWST after its launch.
“We were impressed by the high quality of the proposals received,” Sembach said. “These observing programs not only will generate great science, but also will be a unique resource for demonstrating the investigative capabilities of this extraordinary observatory to the worldwide scientific community.”