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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: 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.