Behind the Webb Podcast

  • December 9, 2013

    Episode 21: All Sewn Up

    by Mary Estacion

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    Shownotes

    The James Webb Space Telescope’s tennis court-sized sunshield is made of a special material called Kapton. But finding Kapton this size is impossible, so engineers must assemble pieces in order to make the sunshield the proper size. This episode of Behind the Webb shows us how the sunshield becomes the proper size and how it's being tested to ensure it will withstand the rigors of space.  (Please note: Some parts of the video are obscured due to the proprietary processes used to make the sunshield.)

    For more information, see the feature article from NASA.

    Learn why the sunshield is so important in "Keep it Cold."

  • September 16, 2013

    Episode 20: Webb's Shaping Up

    by Mary Estacion

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    Shownotes

    The sunshield of the James Webb Space Telescope is made up of five layers of a specially designed material that includes Kapton, aluminum, and silicon.  But it's not only what it's made of that allows the sunshield to keep the observatory the right temperature to make its observations.  Behind the Webb host Mary Estacion takes us to Huntsville, Alabama, to see how engineers are testing each layer of the sunshield.

    Find out more about Webb's sunshield.

  • June 25, 2013

    Episode 19: Spinning a Webb

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    Shownotes

    The James Webb Space Telescope will be launched into orbit using an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. While the launch is a short-lived phase of the mission, it is a very stressful one. Engineers need to make sure the various parts of the spacecraft withstand the forces involved. While it's critical that the various parts of the observatory survive launch, it's also important that the structure does not change shape because of these high stresses. This episode of "Behind the Webb" takes us to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and its very unique testing platform, where one of the portions of the Webb Telescope is being subjected to 1.25 times the launch loads it will see.