We’ve talked about the James Webb Space Telescope before, and how it’s mirrors were constructed with the help of Stainless Steel. But now, finally, this incredible telescope has begun to return some ground breaking images from deep space. Researchers at Cardiff University will be looking at the likes of supermassive black holes and planets that may support life. "It's extremely exciting, It's almost certain that there's life out there" said Dr Subhajit Sarkar.
One such planet that will be under study is Dr Sarkar is K2-18b - 124 light-years away from Earth. K2-18b has potentially of supporting life and Dr Subhajit Sarkar will be analysing the atmosphere to research this further. Alongside the production of the mirror, Stainless Steel is also used in the Cryocooler Tower Assembly (CTA) which is basically a sophisticated refrigerator.
The telescope's Cryocooler Compressor Assembly is connected to the Cryocooler Tower Assembly using a pair of gold-plated stainless steel tubes, each about 2 millimetres in diameter. This results in cooling the MIRI's detectors around 6.2 kelvin which is a chilly -266.95 Celsius or -448.51 Fahrenheit !! The Mid-infrared Instrument, or MIRI, "sees" mid-infrared (MIR) light at wavelengths from 5 to 28 microns.
Unfortuantely we don't make stainless steel space telescopes! but here's a science joke to make up for it.... A photon checks into a hotel and the porter asks him if he has any luggage. The photon replies: “No, I’m travelling light.”