Materion celebrates James Webb Space Telescope success

Staff Writer

Materion Corporation, a world leader in high performing advanced materials, celebrated the July 13 release of the first full-color images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope, a project on which the company collaborated with NASA for more than a decade before its launch on Dec. 25, 2021.
Mirrors for the telescope were made from beryllium and those blanks were formed in Elmore. From there they were shipped to be machined, etc.
The images from deep space are made possible by NIRCam imaging technology, one of multiple instrument modes for scientific observation.
Materion developed new bands for the NIRCam instrument, filters for the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph, and NIRCam coronographic occulting masks that block out things that do not need to be seen. Combined, these technologies enable observations ranging from our own solar system to the most distant galaxies. Materion also delivered optical filters for the NIRspec instrument on board.
In addition, NASA selected beryllium for the primary telescope mirror in 2003, with Materion supplying the 18 all-beryllium mirror segments over a three-year period to NASA suppliers who completed the fabrication and polishing process.
“Beryllium is very lightweight, a third lighter than aluminum, extremely stiff and can be polished very well. It also functions well at cryogenic temperatures which made it the perfect material for the telescope,” said Keith Smith, vice president – Nuclear and Science, Materion. “The telescope features a special grade of gas atomized beryllium which is lightweight and has the properties needed for the telescope’s primary mirror.”
Materion’s beryllium is also used for the telescope’s secondary and tertiary mirrors and support structures for the primary mirrors. While the mirrors are the main showpiece, Materion also supplied highly engineered metals to help manufacture the energy-producing solar panels on the Webb that helps power the system by converting sunlight into electrical energy.


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