The James Webb Space Telescope completed its two-week deployment phase on Saturday, unfolding the final mirror panel as it prepares to study each phase of cosmic history.
Engineering teams cheered at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., As NASA announced on Twitter that the last wing was deployed.
Two weeks after its launch, @NASAWebb reached its next biggest milestone: The mirrors have completed their deployment and the next-generation telescope has taken its final form.
The next step for Webb? Five months of alignment and calibration before starting to get images: pic.twitter.com/BOj5O1HS37
– NASA (@NASA) January 8, 2022 “I’m moved about this – what an incredible milestone,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, senior NASA engineer, during the live video broadcast as astronomers around the world celebrated.
Because the telescope was too large to fit in the nose cone of a rocket in its operational configuration, it was transported folded.
The deployment was a complex and difficult task – the most intimidating project of its kind ever attempted, according to NASA.
“We still have work to do,” NASA said as the wing was locked in place. “When the last latch is secured, NASA Webb will be fully extended into space.”
The most powerful space telescope ever built and successor to Hubble, Webb took off in an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana on December 25 and is heading towards its orbital point, one million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from the Earth.
Although Webb will reach its space destination, known as the second Lagrange point, in a few weeks, it still has about five and a half months of setup left.
The next steps include aligning the telescope’s optics and calibrating its scientific instruments.
On the Edge of the Universe Its infrared technology will allow it to see the first stars and galaxies that formed 13.5 billion years ago, giving astronomers a new glimpse into the first epoch of the Universe.
Earlier this week, the telescope deployed its five-layered sunshade – a 70-foot (21-meter) long kite-shaped device that acts like a parasol, ensuring Webb’s instruments are kept at bay. shadow so that they can detect weak infrared signals from the far reaches of the Universe.
The sun visor will be permanently positioned between the telescope and the Sun, Earth and Moon, with the side facing the Sun being designed to withstand 230 degrees Fahrenheit (110 degrees Celsius).
The visible and ultraviolet light emitted by the very first luminous objects was stretched by the expansion of the Universe and arrives today in the form of infrared, which Webb is equipped to detect with unprecedented clarity.
Its mission also includes the study of distant planets to determine their origin, evolution and habitability.
The NASA Telescope Blog said Saturday’s procedure was “the last of major deployments to the observatory.”
“Its completion will set the stage for the remaining five and a half months of commissioning, which involves settling into a stable operating temperature, aligning mirrors and calibrating scientific instruments. “
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