Sep 25, 2012 2:35 PM by Lauren Molenburg

Preparations begin for NASA to look back in time

NASA reports that the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland received the first two of eighteen 4-ft, 88-pound mirrors from Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado.

These mirrors were specially designed to be used on The James Webb Space Telescope as it looks back in time to the origin of galaxies. To see details so faint and far away, the Webb needs large mirrors.

The bigger the mirror, the greater the sensitivity of the telescope. Just like a camera, a telescope becomes more sensitive and can see more details when it collects more light.

When all 18 hexagonal mirrors are combined and installed, the Webb will be the first astrological observatory to use a mirror with actively-controlled, segmented parts, allowing it to become the primary observatory for the next ten years. As the Webb collects such sensitive data, its goal will be to unravel each stage of development of the universe, from just moments after the Big Bang to the early formation and evolution of star systems and planets.

NASA won't be alone on this project - they will be partnering with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Information from:
Image credit: NASA/Chris Gunn


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