Round Of Testing Completed On Flight Mirrors For James Webb Space Telescope

Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

July 28, 2015 – The flight primary mirror segments for the James Webb Space Telescope recently underwent processing through NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Calibration, Integration and Alignment Facility (CIAF).

In the photo above, the mirror is seen on the Configuration Measurement Machine (CMM), which is used for precision measurements of the backs of the mirrors. These precision measurements must be accurate to 0.1 microns or 1/400th the thickness of a human hair.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colorado, built the primary mirror segments for the James Webb Space Telescope. Once on orbit, the 18 hexagonal mirror 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’s sophisticated mirror architecture will provide James Webb with the most advanced infrared vision of any space observatory ever launched by NASA.

Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: NASA

Ball Aerospace also developed the secondary mirror, tertiary mirror, and fine-steering mirror. Ball is the principal optical subcontractor for the Webb Telescope, led by prime contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. Aerospace Systems.

Image Credit: NASA/Ball Aerospace/Tinsley

Image Credit: NASA/Ball Aerospace/Tinsley

The premier observatory for the next decade, James Webb will be stationed 1 million miles (1.5 million km) from Earth – some four times farther away from us than the Moon. The Webb will be the most powerful space telescope ever built, able to detect the light from the first galaxies ever formed and explore planets around distant stars. It will study every phase of our universe’s history, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of stellar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.