NASA Creates Microscopic Telescope "Doorways" to View Beginning of Time

Naoj_nurseries NASA engineers and scientists building the James Webb Space Telescope, the "next-generation" Hubble, have created a new telescope technology called microshutters. Microshutters are tiny doorways that will allow the telescope to view the most distant stars and galaxies humans have ever seen. Each of the 62,000 shutters measures 100 by 200 microns, or roughly the width of three to six human hairs.

The Webb Telescope will have a wide field of view, and its deep, long observation of the sky will contain millions of light sources. Microshutters allow scientists to remotely and systematically block out light that they do not want. Previously, masks of space telescopes only covered large regions of a field of view at any one time.The shutters allow NASA scienists to perform spectroscopy on up to 100 targets simultaneously. They will be able to see deeper, faint, ancient light in less time.

Hubble's Ultra-Deep Field provides the deepest view of the universe, an image containing tens of thousands of light sources. Some of these light sources are relatively close and some are from an era just after galaxies and stars formed. To go deeper, scientists need to mask the brighter, closer sources and focus only on the most distant.

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Next-Gen Hubble Space Telescope to Reach Beginning of Time

No6_326x350 The James Webb Space Telescope ( JWST ), the orbiting infrared observatory designed to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope, is set to enable fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars and planetary systems. 
The Webb’s scientific goals are split into four themes: The End of the Dark Ages - First Light and Reionization; The Assembly of Galaxies; The Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems; and Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life.

The JWST, named after a former NASA Administrator, will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity. The longer wavelengths enable JWST to look much closer to the beginning of time and to hunt for the unobserved formation of the first galaxies, as well as look inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today.

“Many of the most important scientific results from Hubble were not anticipated before its launch in 1990," said Lead author Jonathan Gardner, Chief of the Laboratory for Observational Cosmology at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. "Similarly, my hope is that Webb will make additional discoveries that we can’t even imagine now.”