Astronomy Picture of the Day

JWST: Ghosts and Mirrors
Image Credit: Chris Gunn, NASA

Explanation: Ghosts aren’t actually hovering over the James Webb Space Telescope. But the lights are out as it stands with gold tinted mirror segments and support structures folded in Goddard Space Flight Center’s Spacecraft Systems Development and Integration Facility clean room. Following vibration and acoustic testing, bright flashlights and ultraviolet lights are played over the stationary telescope looking for contamination, easier to spot in a darkened room. In the dimness the camera’s long exposure creates the ghostly apparitions, blurring the moving lights and engineers. A scientific successor to Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope is optimized for the infrared exploration of the early Universe. Its planned launch is in 2018 from French Guiana on a European Space Agency Ariane 5 rocket.

Tomorrow’s picture: Earth’s equal nigh

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