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Hubble Telescope’s Gold-Covered Replacement Puts Predecessor to Shame

Apr 29, 2016 11:06 AM EDT

After more than 20 years of sending back stunning images of the universe to earth, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is slowly approaching its retirement, and will be replaced by a larger and more powerful space telescope that is said to put to shame its predecessor.

NASA has recently unveiled the golden mirrors of their new space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope or Webb. In addition to the state-of -the-art equipment to be mounted in the Webb, the new space observatory also boasts a primary mirror consisting of 18 coffee table-sized mirrors coated with vaporized gold and made of lightweight beryllium.

Gold is known to be the best reflector of infrared. Due to that a thin layer of gold was coated to the mirrors to better detect the wavelength that marks the farthest object in the universe.

With its powerful detecting abilities, Webb can search for light from stars that formed 13.5 million years ago. The large size of the mirror makes it possible for Webb to collect light from the most distant stars and is sensitive enough to detect a tiny trace of heat signature in the universe.

The Webb is considered to be the largest and most powerful space telescope to ever be built. Due to the size of its primary mirror, it will not fit any known rocket, which is why engineers building the Webb brilliantly designed the primary mirror to fold up like origami, making it more portable.

After two years of building and developing, the Webb is still far from being finished. Other components of the space telescope are not yet mounted. Every component put into the telescope will be carefully tested. When all components are attached, the Webb will still undergo series of simulation and testing.

According to the report from Washington Post, the Webb is a joint project between NASA, European Space Station and Canadian Space Station. The $8.8 billion telescope is slated to be launched into orbit on October 2018.

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