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Near-Perfect Mirror Ready to Be Mounted in Roman Telescope

NASA has become a milestone in the development of its newest telescope, Roman, to be launched in 2025, with the completion of its primary mirror.

A Roman space telescope named after space pioneer and “Hubble’s mother”, Nancy Grace Roman, will investigate distant aspects of the universe, including understanding dark energy and exploring exoplanets. It will also look for wandering rogue planets, which may be far more abundant in our galaxy than before.

To see into the depths of space, Roman needed a large primary mirror of 2.4 meters, which would allow it to capture Hubble’s field of view 100 times. That primary mirror is now complete and polished so finely that the bumps on its surface average just 1.2 nanometers long.

The primary mirror of the Roman Space Telescope depicts an American flag. Its surface is hundreds of times finer than that of a typical domestic mirror. L3 Harris Technologies

“It is very exciting to achieve this feat,” Scott Smith, Roman telescope manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement. “Success depends on a team in which everyone is doing their part, and this is especially true in our current challenging environment. Everyone plays a part in collecting that first image and answering inspiring questions. “

The mirror is an important part of the telescope as it directs light to science equipment such as the Roman’s Wide Field Instrument, essentially a giant camera and coronagraph instrument, which can see distant planets by dazzling nearby stars is. To ensure that the data is as accurate as possible, the mirror must have a near-perfect finish.

The mirror also needs to withstand the stress of the launch and the atmosphere of the space, so it is made of special low-expansion glass that does not expand and contract with changes in temperature. By expanding the mirrors and reducing flex, the telescope will be able to extract more accurate details.

The mirror has been extensively tested alone, and the next step is to test the mirror while it is mounted in its support structure.

“Roman’s primary mirror is complete, yet our work is not finished,” Smith said. “We are excited to see this mission launched and beyond, and look forward to seeing the wonders it reveals.”

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