mirrors of Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, will be the most powerful space telescope ever built.

Inside NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s giant clean room in Greenbelt, Md., JWST Optical Engineer Larkin Carey examines two test mirror segments recently placed on a black composite structure. This black composite structure is called the James Webb Space Telescope’s “Pathfinder” and acts as a spine supporting the telescope’s primary mirror segments. The Pathfinder is a non-flight prototype.

The mirrors were placed on Pathfinder using a robotic arm move that involved highly trained engineers and technicians from Exelis, Northrop Grumman and NASA.

Lee Feinberg, NASA’s Optical Telescope Element Manager at NASA Goddard, said:

“Getting this right is critical to proving we are ready to start assembling the flight mirrors onto the flight structure next summer. This is the first space telescope that has ever been built with a light-weighted segmented primary mirror, so learning how to do this is a groundbreaking capability for not only the Webb telescope but for potential future space telescopes.”

Webb Space Telescope frame

The backplane of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope looks like the springs in a mattress.

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

Images credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

Read more at www.jwst.nasa.gov or www.nasa.gov/webb