Successful cryogenic tests for James Webb Space Telescope

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The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has successfully passed cryogenic tests at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston between August 22 and September 26, 2017. Tests have also proven a right alignment between the telescope and the instruments that were tested together for the first time.

While the JWST is a NASA-led program in which Europe, through ESA, and Canada participate, several French laboratories have played a key role in providing Mid-InfraRed IMager (MIRIM) allowing the telescope to capture images in a range of 5 to 28 microns in wavelength. They are the LESIA space and astrophysics instrumentation research laboratory (Paris Observatory-CNRS-UPMC-Paris Diderot University), the LAM astrophysics laboratory in Marseille (CNRS-AMU), the IAS space astrophysics institute (CNRS-Paris Sud University) and the AIM astrophysics joint research unit (CEA-CNRS-Paris Diderot University) with CEA’s Institute of research into the fundamental laws of the Universe (Irfu) as prime contractor. Oversight is being assured by CNES.

The next step will equip the JWST with thermal shields and will integrate the satellite on its platform. Then, it will be shipped to the CNES Guiana Space Center in Kourou (French Guiana) from where it will be launched in spring 2019 aboard an Ariane 5 to reach its final destination at the L2 Lagrange point located at 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth.

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