The James Webb Telescope has moved into Test Chamber A, where NASA Engineers will simulate an environment where the telescope close to that of space.
This phase of testing is crucial to demonstrate the telescope can operate in the extreme temperatures of space. The test chamber can drop to temperatures as low as minus 236 degrees Celsius or minus 393 degrees Fahrenheit.
In space, the telescope must be kept extremely cold, in order to be able to detect the infrared light from very faint, distant objects.
In order to protect the telescope from external sources of light and heat (like the sun, Earth, and moon), as well as from heat emitted by the observatory, a five-layer, tennis court-sized sun shield acts like a parasol that provides shade.
This sun shield separates the observatory into a warm, sun-facing side (reaching temperatures close to 185 degrees Fahrenheit) and a cold side (400 degrees below zero).
The sun shield blocks sunlight from interfering with the sensitive telescope instruments.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be the most powerful space telescope ever built and is the scientific successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.