NASA Pics Reveal How The James Webb Telescope Is Being Built (BIG PICTURES)

Nasa, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency are currently building the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to Hubble and one of the most powerful astronomical instruments ever conceived.

When complete, the telescope will have a 21-feet-high mirror and 18 smaller hexagonal mirrors with which to explore the sky -- and perhaps even bring us our first true images of planets outside our own solar system.

While it is not scheduled to head into space until at least 2018, Nasa is among the agencies constantly updating keen observers on its progress. In a batch of new images published over the New Year it gave us some new insights into how the telescope is being built, and what it will look like once it's done.

Meanwhile here are some of the most stunning images published ahead of the mission's eventual lift off, with some details about how the machinery pictured will lead to even more spectacular images - and science - in the relatively near future.

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