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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 bzipitidoo on Monday January 10 2022, @01:33PM

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday January 10 2022, @01:33PM (#1211482) Journal

    > My attitude is simple

    Too simple.

    > 18x the initial cost means the original proposal was utter bs.

    And where lies the fault for that? You talk as if that's NASA's fault. It's not. It's the fault of Congress critters who have totally unreasonable fantasies about the costs, difficulties, and unknowns of a project of this sort.

    The fate of the Supercollider is instructive. Its costs ballooned in a similar way. Congress kept messing with it, forcing several stoppages that caused a lot of extra cost to mothball and restart. By the time it was all over, failed, they'd blown more money on the stops and starts than it would have taken to just finish the job.

    They also have all kinds of suspicions about waste and pork. And they hypocrites on that, all too ready to add pork that might result in being re-elected. You're adding to the problems, with your crying over a $9 billion cost, while you blithely overlook a lot of far more wasteful expenditures. The defense budget is far, far worse. One, just one, F35 joint strike fighter costs at least $148 million.

    NASA would so like to shut down the ISS, and put the billions it costs to better uses, but the politicians won't hear of that. If you want to stop waste, how about injecting a bit more realism in the current fantasies of sending people to Mars? If you think a space telescope is expensive, people on Mars will be way, way more expensive. It's good to dream of such things, but right now, and for decades at the least, it's simply not feasible. Yeah, maybe we could get a few astronauts to Mars by the end of the decade if we tried really hard, but for what purpose? They would at most be doing only a very short visit. It'd be a publicity stunt. No way we could set them up for the ultimate goal of colonization. Better, much better, to keep sending rovers, for whatever further exploration of Mars that may be fruitful.

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