Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 astronauts helped test the Lunar Roving Vehicle deployment system at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., the NASA center responsible for designing and testing the rover.
Image credit: NASA
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Ball Aerospace optical technician Scott Murray inspects six primary mirror segments, critical elements of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, prior to cryogenic testing in the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The James Webb Space Telescope will be launched in 2014 to study the formation of the first stars and galaxies and shed new light on the evolution of the universe.
The mirror segment, an engineering development unit and flight spare, has been coated with an ultra-thin layer of gold to ensure that infrared light is properly reflected from the primary mirror into the observatory’s science instruments. The primary mirror engineering development unit will be closely followed by the other 18 primary mirror flight segments in the coating process.
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. The cryogenic test series helps NASA predict how well the telescope will image infrared sources in those conditions.