HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Aug. 2 (UPI) — The mirrors for an ambitious new U.S. space telescope are being put through their paces in a test — at hundreds of degrees below freezing, scientists say.
Six beryllium mirrors intended for the James Webb Space Telescope to be launched in 2014, were subjected to a temperature of minus 415 degrees Fahrenheit meant to bend them into the perfect shape, SPACE.com reported Saturday.
The ultra-cold trial is being performed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The tests will tell scientists how well each mirror will handle changes in temperature over a range of environments in space, NASA officials said.
Once in orbit, the telescope will begin scanning the universe in the infrared spectrum to look farther back into the universe’s history than ever before.
Inside the orbiting observatory, the mirrors must be cooled to extremely low temperatures to become sensitive to faint infrared light.
The mission is expected to cost about $5 billion.
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