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posted by janrinok on Sunday January 09, @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: 2) by MIRV888 on Monday January 10, @07:05AM (5 children)

    by MIRV888 (11376) on Monday January 10, @07:05AM (#1211447)

    LMAO. It's less than a single aircraft carrier. Let alone a carrier group.
    We'll be OK. Science for science's sake is a new concept. Not everyone thinks it's worthwhile.
    I do.

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  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @10:48AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @10:48AM (#1211470)
    Science for science's sake is definitely not a new concept. Just look at ancient astronomy. Done with the naked eye, it's still science. How do you think we know of supernovae that were visible over 1,000 years ago? People were observing the sky back then, had maps of the stars, and saw something new that wasn't on the maps. They also saw planets. And they developed theories.,It's how we eventually figured out the earth wasn't the center of the universe - long before NASA.
    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @01:28PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @01:28PM (#1211481)
      Aristarchus of Samos figured out that the earth and the other planets revolved around the sun, the moon revolved around the earth, and the stars were other suns too far away to see as anything but dots in the sky. Naked eye astronomy and math. There is no opportunity cost, if nothing besides JWST was funded.

      People have always asked "why" and "how." Science isn't some new invention from the last 100 years.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @04:31PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @04:31PM (#1211523)

        > Science isn't some new invention from the last 100 years.

        No, but it's run by MBA's now so it's all about the unit cost and giving the workers a CEO-like figure to idolize. Musk! Musk! Take us to Mars, baby!

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11, @05:13PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @05:13PM (#1211817) Journal

          a CEO-like figure to idolize

          Funny what people see. They're presently launching over 300 metric tons (mt) to orbit (in 2021). That's well over two SLS Block 2 cargo launches to LEO (~130 mt each) or Saturn V launches (140 mt each).

          So we could choose to see some personality cult or we could choose to see people actually doing important stuff in space.

          I heard that when Musk was first hiring people for SpaceX he sold those employees with the idea that his company would bend metal and launch stuff. He's delivered on that. My take is that's why he has loyal employees, not the woo of personality cult.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11, @04:50PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @04:50PM (#1211811) Journal

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

        But there is opportunity cost because your "if" condition failed. There was plenty that could be funded besides the JWST. For a limited example, several JWST could have been funded with that money. If the scientific output from one is valuable, surely more would be more valuable, right? And there's plenty of other science that could be funded instead of additional JWST.

        It's not right to accept the weak performance of NASA here.