science tech sun space james_webb_space_telescope universe observatory spf sunscreen

That’s a serious beach umbrella

Engineers last week successfully stacked and unfolded a giant 1 million SPF sunscreen that will protect NASA’s next generation space telescope as it investigates the history and working of the universe.

The tennis court-sized solar shield will protect the James Webb space telescope’s delicate infrared sensors from interference by the sun. It will be folded during launch and unfurl on command once the telescope, the most powerful space observatory ever built, reaches its orbit. 

Deploying the shield will create a hot sun-facing side and cold side pointed away from our star. The observatory’s warm side will reach 185 degrees Fahrenheit, while the cold side will be a chilly -388 degrees F thanks to the sunshield’s five layers that passively radiate incoming solar energy out into space. The sun, Earth and moon will always remain on one side to prevent their infrared energy from swamping the Webb’s sensing equipment, which is designed to pick up the same wavelengths from faint and very distant sources in the universe. 

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space nasa james_webb_space_telescope astronomy sxsw
Newest Space Telescope On Display at SXSW


by Txchnologist Staff

NASA is taking its next-generation James Webb Space Telescope on the road to Austin, Texas, in March.

Those attending the South by Southwest festival on March 8-10 will get to see a life-sized model of the Hubble’s successor, an advanced instrument designed to make astronomical observations in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. NASA is angling to launch the telescope in 2018 and begin a science mission to find the first galaxies that formed in the early Universe.

Click through to see an infographic on how the James Webb will unfold out of the Ariane 5 spacecraft that carries it into space.

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