NASA writes that the finished primary mirror will help collect and focus the light coming from various cosmic objects in our universe regardless of distance. At 2.4 meters across (7.9 feet), Roman’s primary mirror is of the same size compared to the Hubble Space Telescope’s main mirror. However, it only weighs a portion of it at only 186 kilograms (410 pounds). This was made possible thanks to the technological advancements used in the making of it.
How does it work?
NASA details that Roman’s primary telescope will use infrared light, light which is not visible to the naked eye, in order to conduct its probe of the heavenly bodies in space. It is expected that it will be able to gather more data and more detailed photos of the cosmos for the quality of its output is directly proportional to the mirror’s size.
The primary mirror will send light to one of the telescope’s other instruments called the Wide Field Instrument and Coronagraph Instrument. Think of the Wide Field Instrument as a very big and powerful camera with a wide-angle feature while the Coronagraph Instrument is like an anti-glare feature to block out unnecessary glare coming from nearby stars. These two instruments will analyze the data gathered and provided by the primary mirror in order to create crisp and accurate depictions of the current state of the heavenly bodies it had detected.
To be able to get the best possible view of the universe, the Roman Space Telescope will be launched and mounted at a vantage point of about 1.5 million kilometers or roughly a million miles away from our planet oriented at the opposite of the Sun. This is made to ensure that its data gathering would not be hampered by the bright light coming from our Solar System’s brightest star.
To be able to adapt to the fluctuations in temperature on space, the research team that was in charge of building it used a special type of glass that will not either bend or contract in accordance with the changing temperatures. The reason behind this, according to the space agency, is that when there is a change in the mirror’s surface, the quality of the data gathered will be affected as well thus resulting in a distorted image.
The team was also keen on the primary mirror’s specifications such as the type of coating used, smoothness of the surface, etc. to be able to meet the space telescope’s main objectives.
Scott Smith, the manager of the Roman Space Telescope, shared their excitement on this achievement. They also expressed their gratitude to the whole team and its members in doing their part and helping bring success to the whole project.
But the work doesn’t stop there. Though it has already undergone a series of tests before, the primary mirror will be subjected to further experiments while it’s attached to its support structure.
Named after famed researcher and the first woman chief of astronomy at NASA, Nancy Grace Roman, it is seen as one of the space agency's moves to strengthen its research capabilities in studying our cosmos.