The Webb Space Telescope's sunshield is complete and it looks amazing

Illustration for article titled The Webb Space Telescope's sunshield is complete and it looks amazing

NASA has finished and stacked the Sunshield for the Webb Space Telescope and it's now getting ready to test it. Look at this huge thing. That's enough tinfoil to cover a roasted chicken— if the chicken was the size of Tyrannosaurus Rex. According to NASA, it provides the equivalent of a 1,000,000 Sun Protection Factor.

For reference, suntanning lotion typically goes from SPF 8 to SPF 80. The shield is necessary to keep the telescope's infrared electronics under 50 Kelvin (-370 F or -223.15 C.) Without it, the telescope won't work.

The Sunshield on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is the largest part of the observatory—five layers of thin membrane that must unfurl reliably in space to precise tolerances. Last week, for the first time, engineers stacked and unfurled a full-sized test unit of the Sunshield and it worked perfectly.

The Sunshield is about the length of a tennis court, and will be folded up like an umbrella around the Webb telescope's mirrors and instruments during launch. Once it reaches its orbit, the Webb telescope will receive a command from Earth to unfold, and separate the Sunshield's five layers into their precisely stacked arrangement with its kite-like shape.


I really hope NASA includes a camera on the top stage because I want to see it getting deployed. It's going to be amazing to see it expanding from a small package into a huge thing, Transformers style . Tip for NASA: That's something that would get you some huge press coverage.

SPLOID is a new blog about awesome stuff. Join us on Facebook

Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`


That is science art!