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James Webb Space Telescope Reflector Set for Testing in Houston

11 Jul 2017, 18:12 UTC
James Webb Space Telescope Reflector Set for Testing in Houston
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CAPE CANAVERAL: The 21-foot-tall reflector of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has moved from Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland to Johnson Space Center in Houston for vacuum testing. John Mather, Senior Project Scientist, James Webb Space Telescope addressed a crowd of over 300 space industry members of the National Space Club Florida Committee at their monthly luncheon in Port Canaveral today with updates on the project.

Dr James Mather. Photo Credit: NASA
Mather explained that the reflector and instruments were flown from Maryland to Houston. In preparation for the Webb telescope’s upcoming cryogenic testing, engineers at Johnson have suspended it from the ceiling of the center’s historic Chamber A. Mather said that the vacuum testing could being imminently. Webb will remain suspended in the chamber for the entire cryogenic testing phase, which will last about three months. In space, the telescope must be kept extremely cold, in order to be able to detect the infrared light from very faint, distant objects.
Mather explained that this testing is crucial: “We need to know that the instruments can be focused. With the Webb telescope parked 1 million miles from Earth, it is too far away for astronauts to service ...

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