NASA’s Webb Telescope Reaches Major Milestone as Mirror Unfolds | Weather blog


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This artist’s design of the James Webb Space Telescope in space shows all of its major elements fully deployed. The telescope was bent to fit its launcher, then slowly unfolded over the course of two weeks after launch.

Credit: NASA GSFC / CIL / Adriana Manrique Gutierrez

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope team has fully deployed its 21-foot gold-coated primary mirror, successfully completing the last leg of all major spacecraft deployments to prepare for science operations.

A joint effort with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency, the Webb mission will explore all phases of cosmic history – from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the universe. primitive.

“Today, NASA has taken a new step in engineering for decades. While the journey is not over, I join Team Webb to breathe a little easier and imagine the future breakthroughs that should inspire the world, ”said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The James Webb Space Telescope is an unprecedented mission that is poised to see the light of the first galaxies and uncover the mysteries of our universe. Each feat already achieved and future achievement is testament to the thousands of innovators who have dedicated their lifelong passion to this mission.

Both wings of Webb’s primary mirror had been bent to fit inside the nose cone of an Ariane 5 rocket from Arianespace before launch. After more than a week of other critical spacecraft deployments, the Webb team began remotely deploying the hexagonal segments of the Primary Mirror, the largest ever launched into space. It was a multi-day process, the first deployed on January 7 and the second on January 8.

The ground control of the Baltimore Space Telescope Science Institute’s Mission Operations Center began deploying the second mirror side panel at 8:53 a.m. EST. Once it was deployed and locked into position at 1:17 p.m. EST, the team said all major deployments had been completed.

The world’s largest and most complex space telescope will now begin to move its 18 primary mirror segments to align the telescope’s optics. The ground crew will order 126 actuators on the back of the segments to flex each mirror – an alignment that will take months. Next, the team will calibrate the scientific instruments before delivering the first images of Webb this summer.

“I am so proud of the team – spanning continents and decades – who have achieved this one-of-a-kind achievement,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Missions Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Webb’s successful deployment exemplifies the best that NASA has to offer: the willingness to try bold and challenging things in the name of as yet unknown discoveries. “

Soon, Webb will also experience a third mid-point patch burn – one of three planned to place the telescope precisely orbiting the second Lagrange point, commonly referred to as L2, nearly 1 million kilometers from Earth. This is Webb’s final orbital position, where his visor will shield him from sunlight, Earth, and Moon that could interfere with infrared light observations. Webb is designed to look back over 13.5 billion years to capture infrared light from celestial objects, at much higher resolution than ever before, and to study our own solar system as well as distant worlds.

“The success of all Webb Space Telescope deployments is historic,” said Gregory L. Robinson, Webb Program Director at NASA Headquarters. “This is the first time that a NASA-led mission has attempted to complete a complex sequence to deploy an observatory into space – a remarkable achievement for our team, NASA and the world.”

The NASA Science Mission Directorate oversees the mission. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., Manages the project for the agency and oversees the Space Telescope Science Institute, Northrop Grumman, and other mission partners. In addition to Goddard, several NASA centers contributed to the project, including the Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and many others.

For more information on the Webb mission, visit:

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