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First mirrors for space telescope arrive
NASA says the first two of the 18 primary mirrors for its James Webb Space Telescope arrived at its Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
After inspection they will be stored in the Goddard clean room until engineers are ready to assemble them onto the telescope’s structure that will support them, a NASA release said Monday.
The mirrors where shipped from Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colo., which under contract to Northrop Grumman is responsible for the Webb’s optical technology and lightweight mirror system.
The remaining 16 mirrors will make their way from Ball Aerospace to Goddard over the next 12 months as they await telescope installation in the space telescope in 2015.
“These first two completed flight mirror assemblies arriving at Goddard are an important first step leading towards the integration of the mirrors onto the flight structure,” said Lee Feinberg, NASA optical telescope element manager for the telescope. “These delivered flight mirrors meet their requirements, which is great news for Webb telescope being able to fulfill its scientific potential.”
Each of the 18 hexagonal-shaped mirror assemblies are 4.2 feet across and when assembled will create the telescope’s 21-foot primary mirror.
To meet one of the Webb’s science goals of looking back through time to when galaxies were young, a large mirror is necessary to see far-off and faint objects, astronomers said.
Copyright 2012 by United Press International