The interface, called "SpaceWire," will enable the telescope to work more efficiently and reliably. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said the comparison of the new versus old network interface is comparable to that of a dial-up modem versus a high-speed broadband connection.
Originally developed by the European Space Agency, SpaceWire has been adapted and improved by a team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to connect multiple spacecraft components via super-fast linkages.
The team created a small and very low power microchip that sends and receives signals at speeds of more than 200 megabits per second to enable the space telescope to better support its 66 million detector pixels -- the largest number of pixels ever used on a space telescope.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be able to look back more than 13 billion years to help scientists understand the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars and planets.
The telescope -- a joint project of NASA, the ESA and the Canadian Space Agency -- is expected to be launched in 2013.