James Webb Space Telescope
1/6th scale James Webb test-bed telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope is a large, deployable, infrared-optimized, cryogenic telescope that will help to unlock the secrets of the Universe. James Webb will study first light, assembly of galaxies, birth of stars, planetary systems and their origins of life.
Ball Aerospace is providing the optical telescope for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Ball’s advanced optical technology and lightweight mirror system lies at the heart of the Webb.
Webb beryllium primary mirror segments undergo cryogenic temperature testing at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The diameter of Webb’s primary mirror will measure approximately 6.5 meters. The primary mirror is comprised of 18 hexagonal mirror segments, each approximately 1.3 meters in size. The individual mirror segments are phased in space using computer-controlled actuators that can adjust the position and shape of the mirrors to give the telescope a high quality, sharp image. Because the Webb is an infrared telescope, the mirrors and actuators must function at temperatures as low as –400 degrees Fahrenheit (33 K).
Webb’s success will demonstrate the ability to deploy a large segmented telescope in orbit. The telescope’s sensitivity and angular resolution will allow it to observe faint objects in less than 1/100 of the exposure time required by even the most sensitive mode of the Hubble Space Telescope. That makes it hundreds of times faster than the largest ground-based telescopes.
Ball Aerospace has drawn on its extensive experience with space hardware designed for all four of NASA’s Great Observatories and other customers for the development, validation, and demonstration of technologies that will benefit the Webb.