The James Webb Space Telescope Sun Shield Will Help Us Search for Aliens, Looks Like a Star Destroyer
I find your lack of intelligent life disturbing.
— NASA (@NASA) July 25, 2014
Were you confused over the weekend as to why every NASA Twitter account and any account even closely related or interested was tweeting a picture of a really shiny, upside down Star Destroyer? (You follow everyone involved in the space program on Twitter too, right?) Wonder no more! It’s the solar shield for Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, and it’ll help us find alien life on planets far, far away.
The tennis court-sized sunshield will protect the new space telescope from the sun’s rays with an SPF of 1,000,000. It’ll keep the telescope itself at a chilly -388 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature range it needs to be in for its infrared sensors to function. The sunny side, on the other hand, comes in at 180 degrees F, which current data shows is the temperature the New York subway system requires to function.
As we’ve written in the past, the Webb Telescope will help the search for life on other planets by detecting atmospheres capable of supporting life based on how a light from an exoplanet’s star filters through its atmosphere. The successful unfurling and stacking of the sun shield’s five layers, which must unfold after the telescope is in space, is an important step in preparing for its 2018 launch.
We’re coming for you, aliens, and there’ll be no one to stop us this time.
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