The James Webb Space Telescope is a next generation telescope or a successor of Hubble which provides infrared resolution and sensitivity to wide range of observations. It is about to begin its 5-year mission and the new launching date is set to be 31st October 2021.
The program was started in 1996 but despite of several delays since it began, now the mission seems to on hand with budget exceeding several billions.
Before the launch many tests have been carried out to ensure the proper function outside the earth’s gravity and also unfolds the sunshield to keep the telescope temperature at -220 °C.The rigidity of the sunshield is tested successfully which involves 139 actuators, 8 motors and thousands of other equipment’s to complete the process.
About sunshield in JWST architecture which is a very critical component as it will detect infrared light from the heat objects from 100 to 250 million years ago after the big bang and without that JWST will constructively blind.
The size of the sunshield is about the size of a tennis court which is required to block the lights that are coming from the sun, moon or the earth. The sunshield is made up of five layers each of which has a thickness of hair and also it is made up of KaptonE polyimide film that remains stable in high heat temperatures. Each layers of the sunshield are coated with aluminium and the layers that are facing the sun are coated with silicon that reflects all the heat back to the space. There is also a space between the layers to disappear the heat outside so that the final layer gets some cool to perform its observatory operations.
There are many question regarding its shape as one might wonder that being a critical component of JWST why it has to be formed in kite shape sunshield. The answer is simple it is too big in nature. For launch Ariane 5 rocket was chosen in 2000 and the telescope was designed keep this rocket in mind that will increases our knowledge about the early universe, exoplanets etc. Compared to Hubble, JWST makes the universe more accessible after its launch.