If you can not imagine what level of sensitivity the optics of the ultramodern space telescope James Webb will have, then here is an example that was brought by the senior research fellow of the project and the Nobel laureate John Mather. According to him, this huge telescope is so powerful that, perhaps, could see a bumblebee on the surface of the moon.
“It takes a lot of time to be able to take a picture. And, of course, the bumblebee at this moment is best not to move. The beauty is that the remote corners of the universe seem to be just such motionless for us, “commented Mather.
Despite the fact that the James Webb (JWST) telescope is considered the successor of the Hubble, it is not going to become a complete replacement for the space telescope veteran, but rather complement its effectiveness in all respects. Eighteen hexagonal JWST mirrors will provide the telescope with a 100 times more viewing area than the Hubble. In addition, James Webb has the equipment that allows him to look through the cosmos in the infrared range of the spectrum much more efficiently than any other telescope offers with the same capability. He can see what others can not see. This opportunity, of course, can not but rejoice, but first engineers and scientists need to verify that the “James Webb” will work as planned.
To make sure that JWST is ready for its mission and it does not face the problems that Hubble had to face, the engineers locked it in a special chamber inside the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. Inside this massive camera, an imitation of the cosmic conditions and specifically the overloads that JWST will have to face soon after its launch will be created.
“The operating temperature in orbit is about 30 Kelvin – only 30 degrees above absolute zero. But we’re going to test JWST at slightly lower temperatures, “says NASA engineer Julie Lander.
“We are going to check what kind of overload is capable of withstanding its equipment and scientific instruments in order to have a certain reserve already in orbit.”
Once the telescope’s tests in Houston are completed, it will be transported to California, to Northrop Grumman’s plant for the production of space satellites. There, two remaining components will be “hooked” to it: the thermal shield and the actual spacecraft itself, which will be used to deliver the telescope to Earth’s orbit. And already then, after more than two decades of development and construction, the James Webb telescope will be fully ready for launch in October 2018 and the opening of a new era in astronomy.