Behind the Webb Podcast

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    Episode 22: 100 Points of Light

    The Near Infrared Spectrograph’s unique multi-object capability will allow it to examine as many as 100 objects at the same time.

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    Episode 21: All Sewn Up

    Webb’s giant sunshield is made out of a special material called Kapton – which isn’t available in huge sizes. Engineers must piece together Kapton pieces to make a whole sunshield.

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    Episode 20: Webb's Shaping Up

    Behind the Webb host Mary Estacion takes us to Huntsville, Alabama, to see how engineers are testing each layer of the sunshield.

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    Episode 19: Spinning a Webb

    The Webb Space Telescope's launch is a short-lived but stressful phase of the mission. Engineers need to make sure the various parts of the spacecraft can withstand the forces involved. Join us at Goddard Space Flight Center, where one of the portions of the Webb Telescope is being subjected to 1.25 times the launch loads it will see.

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    Episode 18: On the Wings of Webb

    The Webb Telescope’s main mirror is too big to fit into a rocket for launch. Visit ATK in Utah to find out how they are building “wings” to the mirror’s structure so that it can fold up for launch and then unfold in space.

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    SXSW Special Edition: Behind the Breaking of a Guinness Record

    A Guinness World Record for the largest astronomy lesson was set alongside the full-scale model of the Webb Telescope at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Go behind the scenes of this record-breaking event.

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    SXSW Special Edition: Shedding Light on the Webb

    At the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, the full-scale model of the Webb Telescope is a sight to see both during the day and at night. For lighting designer Todd Ward, providing the nighttime lighting for the model is like creating art.

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    SXSW Special Edition: NASA’s Exhibit at SXSW

    Visitors to the full-size Webb Telescope model at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, can also stop into the NASA Experience Tent to enjoy a range of activities and exhibits about the telescope, infrared light, and the universe that Webb will explore.

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    SXSW Special Edition: Preparations at SXSW

    The full-size model of the Webb Telescope and a variety of exhibits about Webb come to life in Austin, Texas, in preparation for a three-day residency at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival.

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    SXSW Special Edition: Preview of SXSW 2013

    The innovative Webb Telescope comes to Austin, Texas, for the annual South by Southwest festival, famous for showcasing innovations in film, music, and technology.

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    Episode 17: Third Light's the Charm

    Webb's tertiary mirror might be smaller than the telescope's primary and secondary mirrors, but it's just as important for corralling light from the universe. Visit Ball Aerospace in Colorado to find out what Webb's tertiary mirror will do and how it is being tested.

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    Episode 16: Canada's Dynamic Duo

    Visit the Canadian Space Agency for a look at Webb's Fine Guidance Sensor/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph. This instrument will help point the telescope and examine the light from distant objects, gleaning information about both stars and extrasolar planets.

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    Episode 15: The Golden Touch

    The Webb Telescope's mirrors must be coated in an extremely thin layer of gold in order to best reflect infrared light. Find out how engineers coat an entire mirror in only a few grams of gold.

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    Episode 14: The MIRI Has Two Faces

    The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) has two functions: it's both a camera, which takes images, and a spectrograph, which breaks light into colors. Learn why MIRI's dual nature will make it a powerful instrument.

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    Episode 13: Good Vibrations

    It's time to shake things up. Webb's mirrors undergo vibration testing to simulate the experience of being launched into space. These tests ensure that the mirror segments will survive their trip into orbit without damage.

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    Episode 12: On the Wings of Apollo

    At Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, a cavernous chamber is being modified for use in testing the Webb Telescope. Environmental testing is part of the myriad of tests Webb must endure to be deemed space-worthy.

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    Episode 11: Great Plane

    Webb's backplane will hold its 18 hexagonal mirror segments in place, allowing them to function as one. Engineers take us through the backplane design process.

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    Episode 10: Wax On, Wax Off

    Webb's mirrors must be precisely shaped to best capture light and direct it to the telescope's detectors. Watch as the mirrors are ground and polished to the perfect configuration.

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    Episode 9: Not So Heavy Metal

    Webb's perfectly polished, highly reflective mirrors start their life as a pile of rubble, mined from a desert in Utah. Join "Behind the Webb" as we explore a beryllium mining operation.

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    Episode 8: Stretching Webb's Wings

    Webb's protective sunshield will be folded up inside the rocket that carries it into orbit. Engineers explain the process of unfurling the sunshield from a million miles away.