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.