Behind the Webb Podcast

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    Episode 15: The Golden Touch

    The Webb Telescope's mirrors must be coated in an extremely thin layer of gold in order to best reflect infrared light. Find out how engineers coat an entire mirror in only a few grams of gold.

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    Episode 14: The MIRI Has Two Faces

    The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) has two functions: it's both a camera, which takes images, and a spectrograph, which breaks light into colors. Learn why MIRI's dual nature will make it a powerful instrument.

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    Episode 13: Good Vibrations

    It's time to shake things up. Webb's mirrors undergo vibration testing to simulate the experience of being launched into space. These tests ensure that the mirror segments will survive their trip into orbit without damage.

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    Episode 12: On the Wings of Apollo

    At Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, a cavernous chamber is being modified for use in testing the Webb Telescope. Environmental testing is part of the myriad of tests Webb must endure to be deemed space-worthy.

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    Episode 11: Great Plane

    Webb's backplane will hold its 18 hexagonal mirror segments in place, allowing them to function as one. Engineers take us through the backplane design process.

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    Episode 10: Wax On, Wax Off

    Webb's mirrors must be precisely shaped to best capture light and direct it to the telescope's detectors. Watch as the mirrors are ground and polished to the perfect configuration.

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    Episode 9: Not So Heavy Metal

    Webb's perfectly polished, highly reflective mirrors start their life as a pile of rubble, mined from a desert in Utah. Join "Behind the Webb" as we explore a beryllium mining operation.

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    Episode 8: Stretching Webb's Wings

    Webb's protective sunshield will be folded up inside the rocket that carries it into orbit. Engineers explain the process of unfurling the sunshield from a million miles away.

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    Episode 7: Got Your Back

    Webb's mirror, made of 18 individual segments, will be folded up inside the rocket that carries the telescope into orbit. Engineers are constructing the frame at the back of the mirror that will adjust Webb's segments to achieve a single perfect focus.

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    Episode 6: Troubleshooting Webb

    At Northrop Grumman, engineers are testing the systems that will control Webb from the ground. Because Webb will orbit 940,000 miles (1.5 million km) from Earth, it's vital to ensure perfect long-distance control.

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    Episode 5: Webb at the World Science Festival

    Visitors to the World Science Festival in New York City were greeted by a startling sight: the Webb Space Telescope. The life-sized model of the telescope gave viewers a glimpse at the next big leap for orbiting observatories.

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    Episode 4: Reflecting on Webb's Mirrors

    Webb is a reflecting telescope, which means it relies on mirrors to capture the light it uses to make images. At Tinsley Laboratories in California, Webb's multiple mirrors are taking shape and being tested.

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    Episode 3: The Big Chill

    The Webb Telescope's huge primary mirror is made up of 18 smaller mirrors. At NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., environmental and thermal testing of these mirrors is preparing them for the hazards of space.

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    Episode 2: Jack of All Sunshields

    Because Webb sees infrared light, it must be kept extraordinarily cold. Perhaps the most important component for that task is Webb's huge sunshield, which protects the telescope from the Sun's energy.

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    Episode 1: Uncovering MIRI's Detectors

    Webb's "detectors" convert images into a digital signal that can be beamed to Earth. Join us at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Calif., where these vital pieces are undergoing testing.