Materion Corporation Plays Role with New Space Telescope

Posted on: February 28, 2018

Article via The Toledo Blade – February 23, 2018

Welcome to the next frontier in astrophysics, one that’s coming in 2019 and has a couple of Ohio connections.

Originally planned for blast-off this October, the James Webb Space Telescope will be launched in early to mid-2019 by a European Space Agency Ariane 5 rocket.

The launch will be from Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at European Spaceport, near Kourou, French Guiana. A site near the equator was chosen because the spin of the Earth can give an additional push there, NASA said.

Earth’s surface at the equator moves at 1,038 mph, according to the space agency’s calculations. The JWST will be 100 times more powerful than Hubble and will make the most famous telescope to date “look simple.”

Hubble was designed to pick up ultra-violet light, not infrared. The JWST also will extend that vision exponentially deeper into space than anyone’s ever seen. As for those Ohio connections, here are a couple of big ones:

● The idea for Hubble — getting a high-powered telescope far above Earth’s atmosphere — came way back in 1946 when a Toledo-based astrophysicist, Lyman Spitzer, Jr., proposed building telescopes in space. As of 2018, more than 15,000 scientists have published papers with Hubble research.

● Materion Corp., which includes the former Brush Wellman, Inc., and other companies, provides the beryllium needed for the JWST to withstand temperatures of negative 400 degrees in deep space. The super tough polished metal is important to keep the telescope’s 18 mirrors from expanding and contracting, Mr. Sembach said.

According to the company’s website, scientists developing the JWST “decided beryllium was perfectly suited to this mission because of its strong, yet lightweight, properties and its ability to be polished — important characteristics when making high tech mirrors.” The JWST’s beryllium was mined in Utah and refined in Ohio.

By the mid-2020s, NASA hopes to enter yet another frontier by bringing the best of Hubble and JWST together into a single device called the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or WFIRST.

The JWST is named after NASA’s second administrator, James Webb, who ran the space agency from Feb. 14, 1961, to Oct. 7, 1968. Mr. Webb received an honorary degree at the dedication of UT’s Ritter facility on Oct. 13, 1967.

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