Building the James Webb Space Telescope: Hubble's Successor (Gallery)

Primary Mirror Segment Cryogenic Testing

Ball Aerospace

Project scientist Mark Clampin is reflected in the flight mirrors at Marshall Space Flight Center. Photo taken on April 15, 2011.

Gold-Coated Primary Mirror Segment

NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

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.

James Webb Space Telescope Tertiary Mirror

Ben Gallagher (Ball Aerospace) and Quantum Coating Incorporated

Webb's coated flight tertiary mirror. Dan Patriarca, President of Quantum Coating Incorporated, is in the photo. Photo taken on June 22, 2010.

Space Systems Development and Integration (SSDIF) Cleanroom at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Gunn

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.

Integrated Science Instrument Module Structure

NASA, Chris Gunn

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.

James Webb Space Telescope Backplane

Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman workers preparing James Webb Space Telescope backplane in the clean room. Photo taken on July 20, 2010.

Huge Sun Shield Built for Space Telescope

NASA/Northrop Grumman

The sun shield created for the James Webb Space Telescope will reach the size of a tennis court.

JWST's Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI)


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.

James Webb Space Telescope Inspection

Chris Gunn/NASA

An engineer inspects the JWST's primary mirror segments at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

New Space Telescope Mirrors Get Frosty Treatment

NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham/Emmett Given

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.

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