NASA's space telescope, James Webb, successfully removed another critical test stage, taking this ambitious observatory a step closer to the launch in 2021. The spaceship went through its final thermal vacuum test that was supposed to ensure that its hardware operates electronically in a vacuum of space and to withstand extreme temperature variations that it encounters in its mission.
One half of the Web Observatory, known as the "spacecraft element", completed this testing at Northrop Grumman, the leading industrial partner of the mission, in Los Angeles. The other half of the Web, which consists of telescopes and scientific instruments, has already successfully completed a vacuum thermal test at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston before delivering it to Northrop Grumman last year.
In the latest large environmental test, technicians and engineers locked the webbing element inside a special thermal vacuum chamber. The testing team dried the atmosphere from the room to repeat the vacuum of the space, and exposed the element of the Webb of the spacecraft to a wide range of hot and cold temperatures, ranging from minus 235 degrees Farenhagen (minus 148 degrees Celsius) to hot 215 degrees Celsius. (102 degrees Celsius). This variation in temperature ensures that the spaceship will survive the extreme conditions that will be experienced in the universe.
The element of the spacecraft consists of a "bus", which is actually an equipment that flies into an observatory in the universe, plus a revolutionary five-tiered umbrella of the size of a tennis court that will keep Webb's sensitive optics and instruments in the shade, and at their required super cool operating temperatures. The element of the spacecraft is an imperative for the success of the scientific goals of the Webb and must be thoroughly tested and validated for the flight.
With the end of this latest thermal vacuum test, all Webb components were exposed to different conditions to be encountered during launch, and while in orbit, a million miles away from Earth.
"The teams from Northrop Grumman and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center will be praised for a successful thermal vacuum test, devoting hours to arrive where we are now," says Jeanne Davis, Program Manager James Webb Space Telescope. "This incredible achievement paves the way for the next big milestone, which is the integration of telescopes and spacecraft elements."
The next steps will be to join both halves of the Web to form a fully-fledged observatory and to complete the final implementation, testing, and evaluation round before it launches. Complete application of the spacecraft element will confirm that the Webb is ready to continue its operation.
NASA's Webb telescope leaves the chamber A
The space telescope James Webb successfully appeared on the final thermal vacuum (2019, May 30)
taken on May 30, 2019
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