NASA has just launched a record-breaking telescope into space - here's how

The James Webb Space Telescope was launched into space on December 25, 2021. Image: NASA/Chris Gunn

Marcia Rieke

Regents Professor of Astronomy, University of Arizona


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In order to detect the most distant and oldest galaxies, the telescope needs to be huge and kept extremely cold. Image: NASA/Chris Gunn


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The five layers of silvery material underneath the gold mirror are a sunshield that will reflect light and heat to keep the sensors incredibly cold. Image: NASA/Chris Gunn
Engineers and scientists tested the entire telescope in an an extremely cold, low-pressure cryogenic vacuum chamber. Image: NASA/Chris Gunn

Rehearsals and training at the Space Telescope Science Institute are critical to make sure that the assembly process goes smoothly and any unexpected anomalies can be dealt with. Image: NASA/Chris Gunn
To fit inside a rocket, the telescope needs to fold into a compact package. Image: NASA/Chris Gunn

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