NASA receives Webb telescope mirrors

April 13, 2011 at 8:14 PM

GREENBELT, Md., April 13 (UPI) -- NASA says examples of the two mirrors that will allow an upcoming space telescope to see back in space and time arrived Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

The Primary and Secondary Mirror Engineering Design Units together will allow engineers to prepare the James Webb Space Telescope for a launch in 2018 to peer farther into the universe than any previous telescope has, a NASA release said Wednesday.

The mirrors, delivered from Northrup Grumman Aerospace Systems in California are undergoing examination and testing, NASA said.

The primary mirror is composed of 18 smaller hexagonal mirrors that, when assembled, would sit atop the Webb telescope's sun shield. The secondary mirror would be connected to arms that will position it in front of the primary mirror to direct light from the primary mirror to the Webb's instruments.

The "engineering" mirrors received in Maryland will not go on the telescope for its actual launch but will be used to calibrate the equipment that will test the actual flight mirrors when they arrive, although they will be available as flight "spares" if necessary, NASA said.

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