Artist's conception of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.
It takes a lot of guidance to correctly move flight instruments. Critical lift operations involving flight instruments require patience, precision, and many pairs of eyes. This photo shows a number of them who are all involved in the operations of the Fine Guidance Sensor/Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS). Photo taken on August 7, 2012.
Microshutters are a new piece of technology being used on the Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument on Webb. NIRSpec is an instrument that will allow scientists to capture the spectra of more than 100 objects at once. Because the objects NIRSpec will be looking at are so far away and so faint, the instrument needs a way to block out the light of nearer bright objects. Photo taken June 23, 2012.
The MIRI Cleanroom Huddle: Although it appears that these six contamination control engineers are in a huddle around the James Webb Space Telescope's Mid-Infrared Instrument (or MIRI), they are conducting a receiving inspection. The instrument was delivered to NASA on May 29, 2012.
Several critical items related to NASA's next-generation James Webb Space Telescope currently are being tested in the thermal vacuum test chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Image released April 30, 2012.
A technician examines the backplane pathfinder – a flight-like model of the center section of the Webb telescope backplane used to practice assembly and integration before the flight hardware is done. The gray fixture on top of the backplane is the backplane support fixture. Photo taken on April 30, 2012.
A full-scale JWST sunshield membrane deployed on the membrane test fixture at Mantech, Hunstville, ready for a precise measurement of its three dimensional shape. Photo taken on September 14, 2011.
Cryotank being prepared for installation of NIRSpec. Photo taken on July 21, 2011.
The James Webb Space Telescope secondary mirror just after gold coating at Quantum Coating Incorporated. Photo taken on July 19, 2011.
The Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) structure on the centrifuge for testing at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. It has just started spinning. Photo taken on May 24, 2011.
Project scientist Mark Clampin is reflected in the flight mirrors at Marshall Space Flight Center. Photo taken on April 15, 2011.
Ball Aerospace optical technician Scott Murray inspects the first gold primary mirror segment, a critical element of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, prior to cryogenic testing in the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The mirror was coated in gold by by Quantum Coating Incorporated. Photo taken on September 1, 2010.
Webb's coated flight tertiary mirror. Dan Patriarca, President of Quantum Coating Incorporated, is in the photo. Photo taken on June 22, 2010.
This panorama shows the inside of the Space Systems Development and Integration (SSDIF) cleanroom at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, as seen from the observation deck. Photo taken on July 20, 2010.
Goddard technicians lifting the ISIM (Integrated Science Instrument Module) onto the ITS (ISIM Test Structure). ISIM will sit atop this platform during space environmental testing. Photo taken on July 20, 2010.
Northrop Grumman workers preparing James Webb Space Telescope backplane in the clean room. Photo taken on July 20, 2010.
The sun shield created for the James Webb Space Telescope will reach the size of a tennis court.
The Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) on board the James Webb Space Telescope will be used by astronomers to study faint comets circling the Sun, newly born faraway planets, regions of obscured star formation, and galaxies near the edge of the universe. It must work at extremely low temperatures, of just 7 K above absolute zero or -266 °C. Here, MIRI is being placed in the thermal test chamber at RAL Space, Oxfordshire, UK.
An engineer inspects the JWST's primary mirror segments at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
During cryogenic testing, the mirrors will be subjected to temperatures dipping to -415 degrees Fahrenheit, permitting engineers to measure in extreme detail how the shape of each mirror changes as it cools.
Through a process called "Wavefront Sensing and Control," or WFSC, software aboard the James Webb Space Telescope will compute the best position for each of 18 mirrors and one secondary mirror, and then adjust the positions. Engineers used a 1/6 scale model to test the WFSC software.
NASA engineer Ernie Wright holds a dramatic pose in front of the first six flight-ready James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror segments at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Engineers began final round-the-clock cryogenic testing on the mirrors before integrating them into the telescope's structure.
NIRCam’s flight modules are now fully assembled and engraved permanently with "Go Girl Scouts" to honor our close partners in STEM education. Girl Scouts along with NIRCam's scientists, educators, and engineers are going together into space to benefit life on Earth. Photo taken on November 2, 2007