NASA’s Telescope Sunshield Layers Inspected in Aerospace Cleanroom


Inside the cleanroom of NASA’s James Webb

Technicians and engineers working to ensure the soundness of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) manually lower its folded sunshield layers for easier access and inspection. After being lowered, engineers thoroughly inspect all five layers of the reflective silver-colored sunshield for any issues that may have occurred as a result of acoustic testing.

Acoustic testing exposes the spacecraft to similar forces and stress experienced during liftoff, allowing engineers to better prepare it for the rigors of spaceflight.

The sunshield separates the observatory into a hot, sun-facing side (reaching temperatures close to 230 degrees Fahrenheit), and a cold side (approximately minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit) where the sunlight is blocked from interfering with the sensitive telescope instruments.

The JWST will be the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb will solve mysteries of our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

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​Image credit:  Northrop Grumman

About James Webb Telescope

James Webb Telescope Overview

The JWSTwill be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. The telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in 2021.

The Webb telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

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