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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.


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

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @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, @04:30PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @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.