Exploring deep space:
James Webb
Space Telescope

  • Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Zygo Corporation supplied leading-edge precision optics
for NASA’s largest and most powerful telescope

The background

Building a window into the past

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was designed to acquire new information and answer questions about our universe. Shortly after its launch, the JWST produced the deepest and sharpest infrared images of galaxies that date back 13.5 billion years. A window into the past. This is possible thanks to the telescope’s cutting-edge technology and superior optics, which enable it to function seamlessly in the unknowns of space. Teams from around the world collaborated to make this project happen, including Zygo Corporation. Zygo’s world-class team of operations, engineers, and technicians contributed leading-edge extreme precision optics that provide top-tier telescopic performance, nearly 1 million miles from Earth.

The solutions to explore the final frontier

Zygo's cutting-edge technology was utilized in different ways on the project. For example, the software that enabled computer-controlled optical surfacing – a fundamental technology used to test the JWST mirrors – was pioneered by Zygo's team members.

The challenge

Breaking ground in astronomy

To explore beyond our solar system, NASA needed large mirrors to see objects at great distances. These essential optics are highly difficult to produce. Zygo's decades of experience in providing leading-edge precision optics for the design and protection of large metrology mirrors helped support the manufacture of 18 hexagonal-shaped mirrors, which make up the JWST's primary mirror. This primary mirror, sized at 6.5 meters, has six times the collecting area compared to the Hubble Space Telescope’s mirror.

The solution

Authoring the future of science

From the start, Zygo knew they were facing challenges that others hadn’t faced before. However, the chance to explore humanity’s most fundamental questions brought a collective resolve throughout the team. Zygo continues to grow as a global leader in the design and manufacture of advanced optical metrology systems and ultra-precision optical components and assemblies. Zygo’s contributions to the JWST represent advanced knowledge, seasoned expertise, and well-honed manufacturing techniques. Keep your eye out for the next discovery. Discover more at zygo.com.

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