Imagine looking back to the beginnings of our universe. Thirteen and a half billion years ago, to be more precise. That’s exactly what astronomers will do when the James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2021. 

 

It’s “a giant leap for mankind” and towards a better understanding of how our universe and our home, planet Earth, 开始. More powerful than anything before it, this new astro-telescope will be retiring the incredible Hubble. The James Webb will allow us to study every phase of cosmic history: from those first glimmers of light to the formation of galaxies, 星星, 行星, and our very own solar system. It’s a monumental endeavor and DuPont is playing a critical role.

 
 
 
 
 
 

材料 that enable exploration

We may not be the scientists who will be studying the telescope’s findings, but we’re the scientists who have researched and developed materials enabling them to do so. We’re proud to say that in the James Webb there are two key materials that DuPont invented and manufactures: 聚酰亚胺薄膜® and 凯夫拉尔®.

 
 
 

多冷?

现在, if you’ve ever found yourself marching through snow in Antarctica and thought: “wow, this is cold,” think again. Despite it already being cold in space, one of the four instruments aboard the James Webb needs to be cooled to a chilly minus 450°F (minus 266°C) operating temperature.  Known as MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument), it has hyper-sensitive detectors and, because it will be looking for heat signatures, it has to be exceptionally cold itself. 

 

One component that is part of MIRI’s design is an eight-legged device that will securely guide small cooling and exhaust tubes throughout the observatory. To provide stability and flexibility to this “spider” structure, DuPontTM 凯夫拉尔® fibers are being applied. Under extreme conditions, hot or cold, 凯夫拉尔® remains stable. It’s the same material that’s used to protect law enforcement professionals, first responders, and military personnel.

 
 
 
 
 
 

High-tech origami 

It’s incredible to think that the James Webb has to travel a million miles from Earth in a rocket, 然后, in a dance with over 200 distinct movements, unfold gracefully like a piece of high-tech origami into something that looks like a telescope with a solar sail attached to it. 

 

The tennis-court sized sail is made of five layers of our ultra thin polyimide film called 聚酰亚胺薄膜®. The material is so efficient that it separates the observatory into a warm, sun-facing side (reaching temperatures of approximately 400°F) and a cool side (of roughly -185°F). But this is not the first time DuPont or 聚酰亚胺薄膜® will be tested in space. DuPont boasts a track record of space applications that includes the Apollo program, where 20 of the 21 layers of the space suits that protected our astronauts contained DuPont materials, including 诺梅克斯®, 聚酰亚胺薄膜®, 特富龙®, and neoprene. The American flag that our first astronauts to the moon planted was made of DuPont nylon, too.

 
 
 
有多大?

To protect the telescope from the sun’s heat, a tennis-court-sized sunshield is used.

Thin, but powerful

Each of the shield’s 聚酰亚胺薄膜® membrane layers are as thin as a human hair, but provide complete protection from the sun’s rays.

 
 
 

Let the countdown begin

While everyday earthlings continue to be dazzled with more out-of-this-world astrophotography, it’s clear to see why the James Webb Space Telescope has the scientific community excited about what’s yet to be discovered, as we explore deeper into space.

 
 
 

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