Destined to de-thread some of the greatest mysteries of the Universe, NASA’s James Webb space telescope has completed its critical environmental test and is now a step closer to reaching the stars. A joint project by the NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, the space observatory is set to be launched in 2018.
“The Webb telescope is about to embark on its next step in reaching the stars as it has successfully completed its integration and testing at Goddard,” Bill Ochs, NASA’s Webb telescope project manager, said in a statement.
With the help of a device called interferometer, the shape of the Webb telescope’s mirror was measured by the optical engineers prior and post the test. Under artificially realistic test environments, the Webb telescope’s results were compared to the measurements mapped prior to the test.
Conducted at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; the world’s most advanced space observatory’s mirrors underwent the test successfully wherein the optical system remained intact.
Now lined up to shipped to the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, the Webb telescope will be tested in a vacuum, under tremendously cold operating temperatures. This will be an end-to-end optical testing for the observatory.
Estimated for a final launch in the next year, the NASA’s James Webb space telescope will then be sent to California’s Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. At this point, it will be assembled in its final glory and undergo a final testing before the launch.
As a matter of fact, rocket launches exploit the highest levels of vibrations and the created noise couples up with these vibrations, powerful enough to cause a rigorous commotion to the spacecraft. Hence, for a successful launch, all the testing is compulsorily beneficial.
With an aim ranging from discovering the outcomes of the big bang, the formation of first stars and galaxies to studying the stars’ surrounding atmosphere; the spacecraft has been designed to unfold some of the universe’s deepest secrets.