Today, we look at the James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the Hubble that contains golden observatory mirrors almost twice the size of a human being.
The James Webb Space telescope is planned for takeoff in 2018, and it features 18 hexagonal mirrors that will be used to help the telescope’s imaging processes. The 18 mirrors are covered in “a 6.5 meter diameter gold-coated beryllium reflector”. Like the Hubble Telescope before it, and other in-space instruments, Gold was the primary choice for the sensitive instruments because of the strength of the precious metal. Gold is considered the most malleable and ductile metal on earth, as well as highly resistant to acidic attacks. But just how special is Gold for it to be chosen year after year in space-based scientific endeavors?
This article on Physorg describes how powerful gold is in its use on the James Webb Telescope:
“During cryogenic testing, the mirrors are subjected to extreme temperatures dipping to -415 degrees Fahrenheit, which permits NASA contractor engineers to measure in extreme detail how the shape of the mirror changes as it cools -- just as each mirror will change shape over a range of operational temperatures in space.”
With the advancement of the James Webb Telescope, NASA is proving yet again that even in space…gold is king.
Photos and Sources: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/home/index.html