Mirror, mirror


Progress on the James Webb Space Telescope trundles along, with its array of mirrors passing its first optical test.


NASA / Chris Gunn

Engineers and technicians working on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope successfully completed the first important optical measurement of Webb’s fully assembled primary mirror – seen here in the massive clean room in Goddard Space Flight Centre – called a Centre of Curvature test.

Taking a “before” optical measurement of the telescope’s deployed mirror is crucial before the telescope goes into several stages of rigorous mechanical testing.

These tests will simulate the violent sound and vibration environments the telescope will experience inside its rocket on its way out into space.

This environment is one of the most stressful structurally and could alter the shape and alignment of Webb’s primary mirror, which could degrade or, in the worst case, ruin its performance.

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