Working at NASA has its ups and downs, just like any job. I’ve mentioned a couple times already that I’ve been in somewhat of a work slump lately but despite that, there’s no denying that being at NASA provides some really cool opportunities…
…like on Thursday, when I got to see a $10 billion space telescope!!
The James Webb Space Telescope has been here in Houston at JSC for the last several months. It spent more than 100 days in a huge vacuum chamber originally built for the Apollo program, so that it could be tested at the extremely cold temperatures it will experience in space. (We’re talking -400 degrees Fahrenheit — like, reeeeeally cold.)
In this picture, the telescope is through the windows in the foreground. In the background on the right, you can see into the vacuum chamber (which is black inside), and in the background in the middle is the huge circular chamber door that’s currently swung open. It’s hard to even identify the telescope’s primary mirror — a series of gold-coated hexagons made from beryllium — because it’s so shiny and was just reflecting the black chamber behind it! But if you look in the middle of the photo you can see some gold color, and golden light being reflected back up onto the telescope structure.
JSC spent several years getting the chamber ready for these tests. Part of that included building a giant clean room around the chamber to make sure the telescope stayed pristine. The guys in the bunny suits above were using a flashlight to inspect something on one side of the telescope. Just to the right of the men is the telescope’s secondary mirror, folded down on a boom that will extend about 30 feet above the primary mirror (which is all those gold hexagons) when fully deployed.
Space! Telescopes! Astronomy! Very cool stuff indeed.
p.s. I’m doing a 31 day blog writing challenge!