It is easy to become distracted by what is going on around us on earth. Every now and then it is nice to just lose yourself in the above, letting each daily stress or worry just melt away, transfixed on those bright stars in a blanket of darkness. A team at NASA is currently working endlessly on a special project that will help us see stars like we have never seen them before. The James Webb Space Telescope is making waves with its giant size and unique design. Once the telescope is finished with production, we will be able to see stars and planets in galaxies far beyond ours with better clarity than we could have ever dreamed of.
[Image via NASA]
The James Webb Space Telescope is an $8 billion successor to the famous Hubble telescope, and one of NASA’s most expensive projects to date. Constructed from 18 hexagonal mirror segments, each about the size of a coffee table, and that will be attached to the telescope’s cobweb frame that can adjust each segment independently to focus in on any stellar subject at hand. The process to make each one of these mirrors has taken years and is expected to be completed soon with the launch slated for 2018.
In the meantime, crew and engineers are working 10 hour days to complete the finishing touches which include securing each of the mirrors to the mainframe. It will be launched out into space like a type of premature flower, then fold out to expose all 18 mirrors to treacherous atmospheric conditions. It will travel millions of miles away from earth to capture light from the first stars and galaxies, which has been traveling billions of years across the universe to reach our solar system. Astronomer John Mather serves as the project’s scientist at NASA, and has high hopes for the traveling mirrored dish,
“Every time we build bigger or better pieces of equipment, we find something astonishing.”