moving at a quarter mile per second in space, James Webb Space The telescope gained its golden wings on Saturday in the final stages of its deployment since its launch.
The most powerful telescope ever launched from French Guiana on chrismas morning, But the huge observatory had to be folded to accommodate the Ariane 5 missile.
The basic 20-foot-wide Webb mirror is bent in two places, like two ears on either side of a human head. One of those ears was opened by three hex mirrors on Friday, and the last movement occurred on Saturday morning when the two teams placed their last three mirrors on the starboard side. Now the telescope is in its final form to look back not con.
It was a major milestone for the mission and the international team responsible for launch and all phases of deployment. Webb is a global effort between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.
NASA Chief Scientist Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen appeared on Saturday’s NASA live broadcast of the final deployment with a growing beard. “I won’t shave until Webb is fully installed,” Zurbuchen told his wife after he was fired.
Since its launch, the telescope has been slowly unfolding in space, piece by piece. A big change occurred earlier this week when Webb’s Five Layer Sunscreen was opened. Each layer had to be tightened before the next.
The secondary mirror attached to the three long arms at the front of the spacecraft was then ejected. Lee Feinberg, element manager for the Webb Optical Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, called it “the world’s most advanced tripod.”
Saturday’s deployment of the primary mirror means the largest mirror in space has two spread wings, and the telescope has completed all the critical steps to unlocking it from its launch pod. One hundred and seventy-eight Unlocking Editing Mechanisms Required to fully open Webb for posting. On Saturday, the final locks were released.
The publishing team at the Space Telescope Science Institute Control Center in Baltimore heard some clumping in the 1970s while checking all the steps before opening the final mirrors. At one point, Anita Ward’s “Ring my Bell” could be heard on a NASA live broadcast.
The spacecraft’s telemetry has been translated into an animation showing the wing in place as it did in space.
With the last three mirrors aligned with the Large Gold Telescope, a voice from the control center confirmed: “We’ve come to the end of the spread.” Everyone in the control center applauded and applauded.
Webb will continue to travel through space over the next two weeks to reach its final orbit a million miles from Earth, known as Lagrangian Point II, or L2. The spacecraft still has about 230,000 miles to go. It is expected to arrive before the end of January.
The next five months will be spent telescope cooling, Align the 18 mirrors that make up the base mirror and calibrate the pointing tools.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has a website dedicated to tracking Webb’s progress. Provides distance, speed and temperature updates.
By design, JWST has a “cool side” and a “hot side”. The warm side is the underside of the spacecraft’s tennis court-sized sun visor, which faces the sun and protects Webb’s tools that need to work in cold temperatures.
The cold side includes a giant hexagonal mirror and it will be minus 467 degrees Fahrenheit at times. This posed an engineering challenge to the teams building Webb because the telescope must operate at sub-zero temperatures in space, but it was built at room temperature on Earth. To make sure everything works in space, engineers put all mirrors and instruments to the cryogenic vacuum test at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.
The $10 billion JWST project will build on the incredible and far more powerful legacy of the Hubble Space Telescope. Webb will see in infrared light as he observes the first galaxies, discover new worlds and help solve unanswered questions about how we got here.
“Can you imagine, five years from now, how classrooms around the world will be affected by the telescope that is being built now?” Zurbuchen said.
JWST could outlast its lifespan more than 10 years and change what we know about the universe. Next generation scientists will benefit from the mission.
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