HomeSpace NewsPaint it black: behind the James Webb Space Telescope's signature color

Paint it black: behind the James Webb Space Telescope’s signature color

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has to stay super cool to observe the cosmos. How does it beat the heat? Black paint. 

As the agency explained in its new YouTube series “Elements of Webb,” the James Webb Space Telescope’s radiator is painted black to absorb heat. Just like how black asphalt gets hot in the summertime, objects that are black are generally hotter as they absorb all wavelengths of light and convert it into heat. (Comparatively, white objects reflect light and do not absorb heat.)

Webb engineers use this principle to keep the telescope cool. 

Related: The James Webb Space Telescope explained in pictures
Live updates:
 NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope mission

This NASA image shows the deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope’s secondary mirror out in front of its main mirror assembly. (Image credit: NASA)

Webb essentially has two sides, a hot side and a cool side, which are separated by the spacecraft’s sunshield. The cool side is where its highly sensitive scientific instruments reside, and sunshield blocks any heat from the sun from reaching those instruments.

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