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January 11, 2022

NASA's Webb Telescope Reaches Major Milestone as Mirror Unfolds


NASA Webb Telescope


NASA Webb Telescope


Photo: James Webb Space Telescope’s final fold. Image provided by & copyright © NASA.


NASA Webb Telescope


Photo: Webb Model - Pranavi Chatrathi. These are Pranavi Chatrathi’s models. Pranavi says, “I am thrilled to win two prizes for the 2 James Webb Space Telescopes I built for the Texas State Fair. I love telescopes. I am waiting to see the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. Image provided by & copyright © NASA.


WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2022 — NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope team fully deployed its 21-foot, gold-coated primary mirror, completing the final stage of all significant spacecraft deployments to prepare for science operations.

A joint effort with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canadian Space Agency, the Webb mission will explore every phase of cosmic history - from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe.

“Today, NASA achieved another engineering milestone decades in the making. While the journey is not complete, I join the Webb team in breathing a little easier and imagining the future breakthroughs bound to inspire the world,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The James Webb Space Telescope is an unprecedented mission that is on the precipice of seeing the light from the first galaxies and discovering the mysteries of our universe. Each feat already achieved and future accomplishment is a testament to the thousands of innovators who poured their life’s passion into this mission.”

NASA had folded the two wings of Webb’s primary mirror to fit it inside the nose cone of an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket before launch. Then, after more than a week of other critical spacecraft deployments, the Webb team began remotely unfolding the hexagonal segments of the primary mirror, the largest ever launched into space.

Mission Operations Center ground control at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore began deploying the second side panel of the mirror at 8:53 a.m. EST. Once it extended and latched into position at 1:17 p.m. EST, the team declared all major deployments completed.

The world’s largest and most complex space science telescope will now begin moving its 18 primary mirror segments to align the telescope optics. First, the ground team will command 126 actuators on the backsides of the segments to flex each mirror - an alignment that will take months to complete. Then the group will calibrate the science instruments before delivering Webb’s first images this summer.

“I am so proud of the team - spanning continents and decades - that delivered this first-of-its-kind achievement,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate in NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Webb’s successful deployment exemplifies the best of what NASA has to offer: the willingness to attempt bold and challenging things in the name of discoveries still unknown.”

Soon, Webb will also undergo a third mid-course correction burn - one of three planned to place the telescope precisely in orbit around the second Lagrange point, commonly known as L2, nearly 1 million miles from Earth. It is Webb’s final orbital position, where its sun shield will protect it from light from the Sun, Earth, and Moon that could interfere with infrared light observations. As a result, Webb can peer back over 13.5 billion years to capture infrared light from celestial objects, with much higher resolution than ever before, and to study our solar system as well as distant worlds.

Source: NASA

|GlobalGiants.Com|


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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 8:51 AM | Link to this Post






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