NASA’s Webb Telescope Clean Room ‘Transporter’

Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

November 30, 2016 – What looks like a teleporter from science fiction being draped over NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is actually a “clean tent.” The clean tent protects Webb from dust and dirt when engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland transport the next generation space telescope out of the relatively dust-free cleanroom and into the shirtsleeve environment of the vibration and acoustics testing areas.

Vibration and acoustics testing simulate the conditions of launch and ensure that the telescope can withstand the rigors of launch day.

In two years, a rocket will carry the Webb telescope into space so it can orbit one million miles from Earth and peer back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe.

The most powerful space telescope ever built, JWST’s primary mirror consists of 18 hexagonal mirrors built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado. Once on orbit, the 18 hexagonal segments will work together as one 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) primary mirror, the largest mirror ever flown in space and the first to deploy in space. Ball Aerospace was also responsible for developing the secondary mirror, tertiary mirror and fine-steering mirror.

JWST is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. The Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is being developed by Lockheed Martin, under contract with the University of Arizona. NIRCam is the primary science camera on JWST, and also functions as the sensor that is used to align the observatory’s primary mirror.