Behind the Webb Podcast

  • June 27, 2016

    Episode 30: Webb's First Eye Exam

    by Mary Estacion

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    Shownotes

    The Webb Telescope's Aft Optics System houses two of the mirrors that direct the light from the universe to the cameras in the observatory. In this episode of "Behind the Webb," engineers show how they will test the alignment of the mirrors and the path of light through the telescope from end to end, ensuring proper images. While engineers are using mostly test components, the actual Aft Optics System that will go into orbit is part of this test. As we get closer to launch, the full telescope will be tested.

  • October 29, 2015

    Episode 29: Working Stiff

    by Mary Estacion

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    Shownotes

    The James Webb Space Telescope needs to be kept as cold as possible in order to detect infrared light from faint and very distant objects. A key component of this is the observatory’s tennis court-sized sunshield, which obstructs the warmth of the Sun.  In this episode of "Behind the Webb," engineers add special structures to the sunshield that shape it to best reflect heat.

  • September 23, 2015

    Episode 28: Strong and Steady

    by Mary Estacion

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    Shownotes

    Because the Webb Telescope will be launched into space and operate in an extremely cold environment, it needs to be built with materials that are both lightweight and stable. It needs to maintain its shape despite a range of temperatures. One of the science instruments on the telescope, NIRSPEC, or Near Infrared Spectrograph, is largely made from a ceramic known as silicon carbide. This episode of Behind the Webb takes us on a journey from the origins of this special material to how it's incorporated into the next great space observatory.