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posted by janrinok on Sunday January 09 2022, @11:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the cool! dept.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Successfully Unfolds its Massive Mirror

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope successfully unfolds its massive mirror:

The team behind the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope successfully finished unfolding the instrument's distinctive golden mirror on Saturday, meaning the telescope is now fully deployed and is one step closer to sending back data about the universe's first galaxies.

"The successful completion of all of the Webb Space Telescope's deployments is historic," Webb's program director at NASA Headquarters, Gregory L. Robinson, said in a release. "This is the first time a NASA-led mission has ever attempted to complete a complex sequence to unfold an observatory in space – a remarkable feat for our team, NASA, and the world."

NASA and its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, began remotely unfolding the two wings of Webb's primary mirror on Friday and completed the task at about 10:15 a.m. PT Saturday, when the second wing latched into place.

Over the next six months, Webb is set to travel 1 million miles from Earth and begin sending back images of the universe that promise to serve up a new, unfiltered story of the cosmos. Not only will Webb teach us about hidden regions of space, it also has the power to prove whether we've correctly documented the events that happened right after the Big Bang.

Remarkably, NASA Has Completed Deployment of the Webb Space Telescope

Remarkably, NASA has completed deployment of the Webb space telescope:

But now that ultra complex heat shield is working. The temperature on the Sun-facing side of the telescope is 55 degrees Celsius [(131 °F)], or a very, very, very hot day in the Sahara desert . And already, the science instruments on the back side of the sunshield have cooled to -199 degrees Celsius[(-326.2 °F)], a temperature at which nitrogen is a liquid. They will yet cool further.

Work remains, of course. Webb still must traverse about 370,000 km to reach an orbit around a stable Lagrange point, L2. Scientists and engineers must check out and align the 18 primary mirror segments. Scientific instruments must be calibrated. But all of this work is somewhat more routine when it comes to science spacecraft. There are risks, to be sure, but these are mostly known risks.

We can therefore be reasonably confident now that Webb will, in fact, begin to make science observations this summer. We should, truly, be in awe.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by aristarchus on Monday January 10 2022, @01:47AM (33 children)

    by aristarchus (2645) on Monday January 10 2022, @01:47AM (#1211368) Journal

    Scientia potenia est
    and
    ars gratia artis

    18x the original budget and a decade and a half late is a major failure. If the original budget had been $9 billion, it would never have been approved.

    Yes, but money is nothing. Doesn't really actually exist! A mere social convention. So better if NASA was funded by bitcoin?

    Knowledge of the universe, however, is priceless. That means, worth it no matter what the cost, because money is only money. And, an actual space telescope, no matter how late or over-budget, is much more valuable than all the ones that have not been funded, built, or launched.

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  • (Score: 0, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @02:40AM (11 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @02:40AM (#1211386)
    And how much knowledge have we lost because of Webb sucking up funding? There's a huge lost opportunity cost here; NASA couldn't stuck to it's new mantra of faster, cheaper, better.

    We'll probably never know. And for what? Administrators who couldn't properly manage a project. Maybe we could have discovered life on Mars by now. Or in the upper clouds of Venus. Or orbited a half dozen Hubbles and had better chances of lioking at the right place at the right time when something weird happens that could change our fundamental understanding of the universe.

    Those are opportunities that are gone.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:17AM (10 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:17AM (#1211407)

      There is no faster, better, cheaper. You only get to pick two of those three.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @06:42AM (7 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @06:42AM (#1211441) Journal
        And yet, SpaceX showed us it was possible to get all three. There's something wrong with the narrative.
        • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday January 10 2022, @07:37AM (2 children)

          by mhajicek (51) on Monday January 10 2022, @07:37AM (#1211454)

          I believe SpaceX should be putting up orbital telescopes on its own dime, as a public relations device. Let universities use them for free, and people might stop complaining so much about Starlink satellites blocking the view. Should be pretty cheap for them.

          --
          The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:55PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:55PM (#1211487)

            They've had the benefit of an awful lot of money that wasn't their own dime too. The narrative and mythology that has developed around them, and particularly Musk, is remarkable. Same with Tesla. Musk greatly complains about all the government money he receives, and he is totally unhappy to take it, but he has to because it is there, and that is why he wants all those EV subsidies to end now (that other companies are using them to establish their own products has nothing to do with that). One big advantage SpaceX has is that it can build the infrastructure and workforce it needs in a very targeted manner whereas the ULA companies have facilities and workforces that have been built up over decades. Starlink has great advantages in that gets to use his monopolistic position to launch them, and he's ignoring the regulators in a great land grab; he'll have established the monopolistic position in space and will be "too big to fail." A great advantage Tesla has over GM and others is that they can generate a quarter of their profits from cryptocurrency market manipulations. Musk acts very similarly to Microsoft of the 90s, but one difference is that Gates didn't have Twitter back then and perhaps if he did, he would have been able to drive his narrative and develop an army of idolators (I recall it being mostly the media that were in love with him back then). The ends are allowed to justify the means for Musk, at least around here, while others have gotten vilified for that.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @04:48PM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @04:48PM (#1211530) Journal

              Musk greatly complains about all the government money he receives, and he is totally unhappy to take it, but he has to because it is there, and that is why he wants all those EV subsidies to end now (that other companies are using them to establish their own products has nothing to do with that).

              You're free to call his bluff and end those subsidies for everyone.

              One big advantage SpaceX has is that it can build the infrastructure and workforce it needs in a very targeted manner whereas the ULA companies have facilities and workforces that have been built up over decades.

              Think about why that is an advantage. The ULA facilities and workforces are optimized for extracting public funds not for launching stuff into space.

              The ends are allowed to justify the means for Musk, at least around here, while others have gotten vilified for that.

              The means aren't half bad (only real complaints are the quantity of stuff in orbit and that he works people pretty hard) and it results in cheap rockets launching a lot of stuff into orbit. SpaceX is doing. It's not other peoples' money that made that happen.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:38PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:38PM (#1211526)

          SpaceX isn't a Congressional pork project. When pork is the objective then it becomes slower, worse, and more expensive, pick all three. I can say 'worse' here because while the JWST is amazing, it is amazing for twenty year old tech. Had they optimized for faster/better/cheaper then it would have launched fifteen years ago and we'd be on the second or third generation of the technology today.

        • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday January 10 2022, @05:26PM (2 children)

          by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {asdf.fi}> on Monday January 10 2022, @05:26PM (#1211542) Homepage
          Some of the SpaceX launches for the DoD cost over 20x the going rate.
          --
          Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @06:01PM (1 child)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @06:01PM (#1211559) Journal

            Some of the SpaceX launches for the DoD cost over 20x the going rate.

            The DoD would be paying for a lot more than just a launch. They're probably paying for everyone on the launch team to have security clearances, for example, and a higher reliability launch.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:08PM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:08PM (#1211792) Journal
              Come to think of it, SpaceX is probably throwing away the first stage too. You can boost a little more, if you don't reserve propellant for booster reuse.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:06PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:06PM (#1211516)

        There is no faster, better, cheaper. You only get to pick two of those three.

        Bullshit. It's one -- at best.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @03:11AM (16 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @03:11AM (#1211393) Journal

    Knowledge of the universe, however, is priceless. That means, worth it no matter what the cost, because money is only money. And, an actual space telescope, no matter how late or over-budget, is much more valuable than all the ones that have not been funded, built, or launched.

    So why not fund me, say a trillion dollars a year, to do that priceless knowledge? I'm pretty sure, I can find new priceless knowledge with a few million dollars and the rest of that money, which is nothing, can be redirected more productively to the khallow pampering fund, which is something for me.

    The obvious rebuttal to your whole post is opportunity cost. Even if money is nothing, there are research strategies that can give you a whole lot more research than others. When one burns $10 billion on a moderately better telescope, that's a huge loss for all the other research they could have done with the money (including merely spending much less for the JWST and putting the savings in other space research).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:02AM (11 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:02AM (#1211404)

      Yes, but when you've been senile for 2000 years you can afford to take the long view and just wait for debts to be Zimbabwed into oblivion.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by aristarchus on Monday January 10 2022, @06:08AM (10 children)

        by aristarchus (2645) on Monday January 10 2022, @06:08AM (#1211431) Journal

        Opportunity cost is a very stupid, Republican neo-liberal economic argument. There is no opportunity cost, if nothing besides JWST was funded. Yes, of course, coulda, woulda, if not for the resistance of people who think money is a real thing and is a reflection of their Identity (non-Black), but none of that is true, and khallow has re-ified capital really bad, in the Marxist sense. Which of course he does not understand.

        2400 years, more or less, and with each I am more amazed at the stupidity of the average human conservative. In classical China we called them 小人, small or petty people, only concerned with profit. Egoists, selfish bastards, Americans, or more properly, American Republicans. You may think it is my discernment that is degrading, but rest assured, I have the higher perspective.

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @06:49AM (4 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @06:49AM (#1211442) Journal

          Opportunity cost is a very stupid, Republican neo-liberal economic argument.

          It whips your argument soundly - that informs me that your argument was worse than very stupid.

          There is no opportunity cost, if nothing besides JWST was funded.

          "If". There's similarly then no opportunity cost, if nothing besides a little token research and the glorious khallow pampering fund are funded. You have to acknowledge that choice exists first before you can understand the point of opportunity cost. Economics fundamentally is about the value (as we perceive it) of the choices we make. If we refuse to acknowledge such choices, we end up accepting very horrendous decisions like the present course of the JWST.

          • (Score: -1, Troll) by aristarchus on Monday January 10 2022, @06:56AM (3 children)

            by aristarchus (2645) on Monday January 10 2022, @06:56AM (#1211443) Journal

            Stick to small-scale earth-moving equipment, khallow, it is more your "speed".

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @06:58AM (2 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @06:58AM (#1211444) Journal
              And yet I'm not the one with the cognitive dissonance and the treadless arguments.
              • (Score: 0, Troll) by aristarchus on Monday January 10 2022, @08:05AM (1 child)

                by aristarchus (2645) on Monday January 10 2022, @08:05AM (#1211456) Journal

                Are you so sure? Certainly your backhoes are treadless, at least the ones you offered for rental to me!

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @11:00AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @11:00AM (#1211473)
          There's always an opportunity cost, always has been, in everything humans do. Do we stay in one place, or do we explore beyond the local horizons in the hope of better farmland, a more stable water supply? Do we eat all our corn now or do we save some to plant next year? Do we get an education or go straight into the work force, or do both over a longer period? Do we eat the same diet every day or do we try something different once in a while, maybe finding something new and exciting? Think of the first person to eat lobster, or smoked oysters,,or snails in garlic butter.

          r Every choice has a cost in terms of the road not taken. And that's been true long before the first humans existed. It's why many animals adopted migration and others didn't. Each strategy has benefits and costs. Ask the whales. Not exactly homebodies.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:30PM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:30PM (#1211802) Journal
            There's a lot of stuff that's always been there - platitudes being a great example in your post.

            My point here is not merely to describe something that's "always been" here, but to show that choosing stuff like the present JWST and its development path are deeply suboptimal - even if you're trying to completely ignore economics and purely consider science to have infinite value. By making common sense choices, you can have a lot more science for the same resources and effort expended.

            It's an interesting bit of cognitive dissonance - scientifically inclined people making unscientific choices.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:22PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:22PM (#1211479)

          There is no opportunity cost, if nothing besides JWST was funded.

          That is a very dishonest argument worthy of a GOP leader.

          I pointed out all the other missions that were canceled because of Webb sucking yp money. That means the money that would have been spent on them went instead to Webb. That also means that the science they would have produced is lost. That lost science is an opportunity cost.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:12PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:12PM (#1211517)

            It's a bit fucking rich talking about opportunity costs in a civilization that spent 2000 years trying its hardest to believe in a Mystical Sky God and building golden temples to convince the noobs. Then for about 30 seconds, spent a tiny fraction of the military budget on something else with MASSIVE success (relatively speaking), before creaming off all the money again to pay for golden yachts for the new billionaire Gods.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @04:56PM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @04:56PM (#1211532) Journal

              It's a bit fucking rich talking about opportunity costs

              Not at all. The sky god and golden temple stuff is irrelevant.

              before creaming off all the money again to pay for golden yachts for the new billionaire Gods.

              You're free to worship whatever you like. I'm not interested.

              The point here is that if you genuinely think that stuff like JWST is for doing stuff or generating science, then the economic factors, things like opportunity cost, matter a great deal. If you're just making another golden temple and worshiping your own sky god variant, then sure, economics doesn't really matter.

              So what is it? Is the JWST just a temple launched into space to show how virtuous we are? Or are we using that for a real purpose? If it's the latter, you have to consider the opportunity costs - what $10 billion could have been used for rather than just cheer on another white elephant.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Mockingbird on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:21AM (3 children)

      by Mockingbird (15239) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:21AM (#1211723) Journal

      So why not fund me, say a trillion dollars a year, to do that priceless knowledge? I'm pretty sure, I can find new priceless knowledge with a few million dollars and the rest of that money, which is nothing, can be redirected more productively to the khallow pampering fund, which is something for me.

      There are basic entry level competencies to bid, khallow. I am sorry to inform you, in the opinion of the board, that your past publications on SoylentNews, and elsewhere, do not suggest you are capable of doing priceless knowledge. In fact, it seems you are always after priced knowledge, that would allow you to such up the the ultra rich class. Try Blue Orifice instead.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @01:50PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @01:50PM (#1211752) Journal

        There are basic entry level competencies to bid

        That box is checked here. I got basic entry level competencies.

        the opinion of the board

        I'm the board. I got this. I just don't have that trillion dollars yet. Why do you hate science?

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:35PM (1 child)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:35PM (#1211806) Journal

        There are basic entry level competencies to bid

        As an aside, ari, you've granted me the game by allowing that some approaches appear more "capable" than others. It's merely a minor detail that approaches with better scientific return over their opportunity costs are more capable.

        • (Score: -1, Troll) by Mockingbird on Thursday January 13 2022, @03:59AM

          by Mockingbird (15239) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13 2022, @03:59AM (#1212322) Journal

          Ari? We were talking about competencies, khallow. You fail again.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by PiMuNu on Monday January 10 2022, @10:30AM (3 children)

    by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @10:30AM (#1211465)

    Agreed, money is nothing. The main cost is in effort.

    https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/webb/team/index.html [nasa.gov]

    ... 1,000 people in more than 17 countries are developing the James Webb Space Telescope. In project-ese there is a concept of "Standing army cost" i.e. while folks are waiting for the JWST to pass tests/etc they are doing less productive work.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:19PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:19PM (#1211519)

      Put it in more simple terms. At work, there are dozens of employees doing a bunch of busy bullshit. One or two are capable of producing new ideas. Oh sure, everyone thinks they can but almost nobody can. However slowly these people work, that's the maximum rate of idea production at work. You can slow it down (with EDI training, for example, or compulsory progress reports in triplicate to meet the high standards of middle management) but without them 1000 years will pass without progress. Doubt me? Let me introduce history to you.

      • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Tuesday January 11 2022, @11:59AM

        by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @11:59AM (#1211739)

        Actually that's not really what I meant, although it may be true. Of course, I am one of the productive ones so I am happy to agree (sarcasm).

        Examples of what I really meant:-
        * on an experiment where I worked, we were waiting for some delayed equipment to be built and spent lots of time simulating the real experiment and doing simulated data analysis. It was mostly useless time, we would have been better off if the equipment had arrived on time and we could just do the experiment. (This is something like "standing army costs" in project management jargon).
        * as others have pointed out, JWST is not much of an upgrade (maybe I don't agree). So those 1000 people could have built 10 satellites that were almost as good, or maybe better, in the same time. What would have been the better investment of time?

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:37PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:37PM (#1211807) Journal

        One or two are capable of producing new ideas. Oh sure, everyone thinks they can but almost nobody can.

        A huge thing missing from your cool story, bro, is that you can put your thumb on the scale. One or two might be capable, but you can increase that number by enable and educating more such people. You can also decrease that number by throwing them on a bunch of makework while they wait on the JWST to launch.