NASA describes the James Webb Telescope, due to be launched in 2019, as ‘the world’s premier infrared space observatory of the next decade.’
With NASA’s Webb Telescope’s approximately nine-month stay in Texas coming to an end, this time-lapse, taken in the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Chamber A (a massive thermal vacuum chamber), shows activity from the arrival of the Webb Telescope’s optical and instrument segment through to its roll out from the chamber after completing its cryogenic testing.
The Webb Telescope arrived at Johnson in May 2017, inside a gigantic, specially designed shipping container called the Space Telescope Transporter for Air, Road and Sea (STTARS). On its arrival, engineers moved STTARS into the Chamber A cleanroom and carefully unpacked the telescope’s combined optical element and science instruments. This was the first step of many in order to test the telescope.
A barrage of tests were undertaken to make sure that Webb would be capable of enduring the rigours of outer space and safely reach what is called ‘the second Lagrange point’or L2, one and a half million kilometres away from the Earth, where it will orbit the Sun.
You can read more about this extraordinary piece of equipment in the February issue of Popular Mechanics on sale from Monday, 22 January 2018.
Image credit: NASA