Behind James Webb Space Telescope’s iconic mirror

The primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope. (Image credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)

Have you seen images online of a giant, golden honeycomb poised to launch into space? That’s the iconic mirror that will allow the James Webb Space Telescope to study corners of the cosmos never before seen.

The James Webb Space Telescope, a joint collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, is set to be the most powerful space telescope ever. The secret to its impressive observation powers? An enormous, golden mirror. The mirror, roughly the size of a tennis court, is made up of 18 smaller mirrors that together will allow mission teams to use the scope to measure light from extremely distant galaxies, billions of light-years away.