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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.

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by martyb on Monday January 10 2022, @01:51AM (4 children)

    by martyb (76) on Monday January 10 2022, @01:51AM (#1211370) Journal

    317 points of critical failure. From a government agency. I gave it a 50/50 chance and am glad to be proved wrong.

    I shared your apprehension and I am thrilled, too, to see things go so smoothly!

    There is still 1 more step. When it gets to L2 it still need to do a braking burn. Which should be like you and me using our turn signals. Which a lot of you don't do.....

    My understanding is that JWST is actually coasting "uphill" (i.e. against gravity) so there is no burn planned so as to decelerate. It is designed to stop on its own. A retro-burn, AIUI, would entail a reorientation that would let unacceptable warmth impinge on the instruments that need to be kept at something like 70 kelvin (60 °C above absolute zero). Hence the 5 layers of shielding to block light from the Sun and even reflected from Earth. That is also part of the reason why it is being stationed at L2.

    Still, I'm hopeful

    and so am I =)

    Wit is intellect, dancing.
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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mhajicek on Monday January 10 2022, @07:26AM (2 children)

    by mhajicek (51) on Monday January 10 2022, @07:26AM (#1211450)

    As I understand it, it will need to do some minor station keeping. I presume the designers were smart enough to let it thrust in any direction without exposing the instruments to the sun.

    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, @04:28PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:28PM (#1211522)

    JWST has to burn on arrival to circularize its orbit. I'm not sure if failure means a return to Earth or getting left behind, but it is still a single point of failure.