We've been getting some amazing new photos of space and galaxies far beyond our own, thanks to the newly deployed James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
And those images are thanks, in part, to high-end materials such as the carbon-fiber composites used in the structure that serves as the telescope's spine, giving the essential strength needed to hold JWST still when taking images. The official name of the structure is the Primary Mirror Backplane Support Structure (PMBSS).
"While the telescope's 18 mirrors move, the [PMBSS] remains steadier than a surgeon's hand, especially because no operating room is as cold as space," Northrop Grumman, one of the companies involved in building the telescope, wrote in a news release. "The team demonstrated to NASA that PMBSS should not vary more than 38 nanometers — about 1/1,000 the diameter of a human hair — keeping the mirror stable.
"To put that into scale, if JWST's mirrors were as large as the distance between New York and Los Angeles, the tolerance error of movement from the backplane could be no more than 1 inch," the company said.
Toray Advanced Composites' carbon-fiber material also went into a variety of other parts, including a subsection of the assembly that stored the telescope sections during launch.