Move over, Hubble, there’s a new super sized space telescope in town. Or, rather there will be. NASA’s James Webb space telescope – previously known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” – will be the biggest space telescope in orbit when it goes space-born sometime in 2018. The telescope aims to study every chapter in the story of our universe – so everything ever, basically. Researchers hope the Webb could unlock secrets regarding everything from the formation of the early universe to the particular chemistry of life sustaining solar systems like our own. The telescope will pack an arsenal of super cool technology that was developed specifically for it. This tech includes beryllium optics and the massive primary mirror that will fold out into position once the craft is in orbit.
The video below from NatGeo provides some background on how this telescope of tomorrow is coming together. As the video notes, the mirrors are covered in a super thin layer of gold. The primary purpose of of the gold coating is that it makes the telescope super reflective in infrared light, but it may also be because coating your $11 billion telescope in gold is pretty much the most baller move imaginable.
The James Webb telescope is named after the revered NASA director who helmed the newborn agency from 1961-68, a period which saw the bulk of the Apollo missions.