Golden mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope
For many millennia, people have wanted to get answers to the mysteries of the Universe. Very soon, humanity will take another important step towards solving the mysteries of the creation of the world.
NASA will launch the James Webb Space Telescope on December 18, 2021. The front of the composite focusing mirror is coated with a thin layer of gold that will capture infrared radiation and direct it to sensitive readout devices.
In the photo: the diameter of the composite telescope mirror in the unfolded position is 6.5 meters. Each panel weighs 20 kilograms.
NASA specialists assembled the main mirror from 18 hexagonal segments. When folded, it will be placed in the rocket and unfurled only in orbit. Due to the symmetry of the hexagons, the segments dock without gaps and fold into a shape similar to a circle. This is the ideal form for focusing light on special detectors.
In the photo: the mirrors are covered with a thin layer of the precious metal with a total volume of 2.5 cm³, weighing just over 48 grams.
The mirror segments were made of strong but lightweight metal, namely beryllium, and covered with the thinnest layer of gold. The yellow metal perfectly reflects light, especially in the infrared range, thus increasing the telescope’s sensitivity to the glow of the most distant ancient astronomical objects.
This is hardly the only example of the use of gold in the space industry. The precious metal is also used for modern spacesuits of astronauts, hulls and parts of shuttles and other equipment. It protects against cosmic rays, high temperatures, glare and corrosion.
The telescope will study the stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang in order to reveal the veil of secrecy over the universe. Another of the many tasks of the newest space observatory will be the search for potentially habitable exoplanets. Thanks to the all-seeing golden eye, humanity will have the opportunity to look beyond the limits of the space available to us, learn the secrets of the past and pave a confident course into the future!
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The Wealth of the Universe: Gold in Space