A special component that will help keep the in focus in spite of the vibrations of the rocket launch and in space has passed a critical step, and is now ready to be manufactured, Northrop Grumman officials announced today.
The isolater component, a suspension system that will absorb vibrations so that the telescope's mirror can stay focused even as the unit moves through space, will be seated between the spacecraft and the tower that holds the main mirror of the telescope.
"The spacecraft has multiple mechanisms that cause vibration, such as spinning reaction wheels," said Andy Cohen, Webb Spacecraft manager, in a press release. "The key to precision alignment and vibration suppression is that it keeps the telescope in the shadow of the sunshield, where it must stay to operate properly."
The James Webb Telescope will eventually replace the Hubble telescope and is expected to be launched in 2018. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built and will be able to examine the most distant objects in the universe, including distant galaxies and planets orbiting other stars.