DM CALIFORNIA - The largest space telescope ever built has passed more milestone tests ahead of its 2018 launch.

The James Webb Telescope, nicknamed ‘Super Hubble’, is the most advanced space observatory in the world and will allow astronomers to peer 13.5 billion years back in time.

It is designed to unravel some of the greatest mysteries of the universe, from discovering the first stars and galaxies that formed after the big bang to studying the atmospheres of planets around other stars.

Now, Nasa has completed its first end-to-end communication between the telescope and its mission operations centre.

The team verified the telescope was recording and transmitting properly to the spacecraft bus, which is currently located at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California.

These communications are required to support its launch and then operate it once it’s in orbit.  

The telescope is 100 times more potent than its predecessor, Hubble, and three times larger.

For this reason, it has been nicknamed ‘Super Hubble’.

Alan Johns, operations manager for the Webb telescope at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, said: ‘This was the first time all the different parts worked together at the same time, and this was the first time it was tested against the actual spacecraft flight hardware.’

Scott Willoughby, Northrop Grumman vice president and program manager for the Webb telescope, added: ‘This is a great milestone not only for the telescope but for the industry team, who worked seamlessly together from coast to coast to successfully complete the GSEG-1.

‘This test puts us one step closer in preparing the Webb telescope for launch.’

Nasa describes the telescope as a ‘powerful time machine with infrared vision that will peer back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe.’

The ground segment test consisted of two parts—the Space Network (SN) portion and the Deep Space Network (DSN) portion.

‘This test puts us one step closer in preparing the Webb telescope for launch.’

Nasa describes the telescope as a ‘powerful time machine with infrared vision that will peer back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe.’

The ground segment test consisted of two parts—the Space Network (SN) portion and the Deep Space Network (DSN) portion.