It's cold up there in space, so before the James Webb Space Telescope gets sent up there, NASA scientists are putting it through its paces, locking parts of it in a vacuum and chilling them to -414 F. We've seen what the vacuum looks like, and here we see the telescope's wings coming in for testing. The wings have 900 parts, mostly made from lightweight graphite composite materials, and can unfold from 16.4 feet to 21 feet. The tests will ensure all of those parts work in a controlled setting before the telescope is rocketed away for real.
In 2018, NASA will launch the James Webb Space Telescope, which will boast mirrors approximately seven times larger than those on the Hubble. Once operational, the telescope will peer through interstellar dust and clearly image some of the youngest stars and galaxies in the universe.
The James Webb Space Telescope may someday put Hubble out of business, but until then NASA's old standby is still making new discoveries. Today, that comes to us in the form of the first exoplanet "waterworld" - a water-covered planet shrouded by a dense, steamy atmosphere, the first confirmed planet of its kind.
NASA's new budget, approved by a House and Senate conference committee and going before the full House today, will save the over-budget James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). But the allotment for commercial space taxis to ferry crews to and from the International Space Station has been cut in half.