NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope optics work!

March 16, 2022
During the fine-phasing alignment stage of commissioning of Webb’s Optical Telescope Element, every optical parameter checked and tested is performing at or above expectations.

On March 11, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope team completed the critical mirror alignment steps and expects Webb’s optical performance will meet or exceed its science goals. It’s now ready to gather light from distant objects and deliver it to its instruments.

Thanks to its first-of-its-kind optical system, Webb will soon deliver its view of the cosmos.

“More than 20 years ago, the Webb team set out to build the most powerful telescope anyone has ever put in space and came up with an audacious optical design to meet demanding science goals,” says Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in a statement. “Today we can say this design is going to deliver.”

Many of the largest ground-based telescopes on Earth use segmented primary mirrors, but Webb is the first in space with this design. Its 6.5 m primary mirror is made of 18 hexagonal beryllium mirror segments—too large to fit inside a rocket fairing. It had to be folded up to get it to space, and then unfolded in space before each mirror could be adjusted (within nanometers) to form a single mirror surface.

Beyond enabling the incredible science Webb will achieve, “the teams that designed, built, tested, launched, and now operate this observatory have pioneered a new way to build space telescopes,” says Lee Feinberg, Webb optical telescope element manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in a statement. 

About the Author

Sally Cole Johnson | Senior Technical Editor

Sally Cole Johnson, Laser Focus World’s senior technical editor, is a science and technology journalist who specializes in physics and semiconductors. She wrote for the American Institute of Physics for more than 15 years, complexity for the Santa Fe Institute, and theoretical physics and neuroscience for the Kavli Foundation.

Sponsored Recommendations

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

How to Tune Servo Systems: The Basics

April 10, 2024
Learn how to tune a servo system using frequency-based tools to meet system specifications by watching our webinar!

Motion Scan and Data Collection Methods for Electro-Optic System Testing

April 10, 2024
Learn how different scanning patterns and approaches can be used in measuring an electro-optic sensor performance, by reading our whitepaper here!

How Precision Motion Systems are Shaping the Future of Semiconductor Manufacturing

March 28, 2024
This article highlights the pivotal role precision motion systems play in supporting the latest semiconductor manufacturing trends.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!