Engineers have completed the first “Center of Curvature” test on the primary mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in order to measure the shape of the mirror before the telescope goes through a series of launch environment tests.
NASA engineers collaborated with technicians from Ball Aerospace & Technologies and the Space Telescope Science Institute to conduct the first optical measurement of Webb’s main mirror at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, NASA said Wednesday.
A team of optical engineers used wavelengths of light and a computer-generated hologram to compare and measure changes in the mirror’s position or shape through the use of an interferometer.
The team will repeat the test once the telescope completes its space launch environment tests.
NASA completed the pre-Center of Curvature test after Northrop Grumman received the fifth sunshield layer from NeXolve for integration with the Webb telescope, which is the successor to the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Northrop built the telescope as the project’s prime contractor.
NASA collaborated with the Canadian Space Agency and European Space Agency on the Webb telescope that will work to generate images of the first galaxies and planets.