NASA's Webb Telescope Gets Its Wings

A massive backplane that will hold the primary mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope nearly motionless while it peers into space is another step closer to completion with the recent assembly of the support structure’s wings.

The wings enable the mirror, made of 18 pieces of beryllium, to fold up and fit inside a 5 meter, or 16.4 feet, fairing on a rocket, and then unfold to 6.4 meters, or 21 feet, in diameter after the telescope is delivered to space. All that is left to build is the support fixture that will house an integrated science instrument module, and technicians will connect the wings and the backplane’s center section to the rest of the observatory. The center section was completed in April 2012.

On May 17, 2012 NASA Explorer Schools held a live interactive Web chat with Nobel Laureate, Dr. John Mather. Dr. Mather, Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, joined NES to answer questions from students across the country. To watch his presentation and chat with NASA Explorer Schools students, visit the chat page titled, The Big Bang and The Milky Way .

To see pictures and read more about the James Webb Space Telescope, check out the article, NASA’s Webb Telescope Gets Its Wings.