James Webb Space Telescope team arranges 18 star sources in a hexagonal pattern

(ORDO NEWS) — The James Webb Space Telescope team continues to make progress on the complex mirror segment alignment procedure currently underway.

Engineers have completed the first step of this process, called “segment image identification.” The resulting image shows that the team rotated each of the 18 segments of Webb’s main mirror so that 18 out-of-focus copies of the same star are arranged in the image in the planned hexagonal alignment.

With this “grid image” taken, the team now proceeded to the second step of the alignment, “segment alignment”.

During this step, the team will correct gross misconfigurations of the mirror segments and re-align the secondary mirror, making the image of each individual starlight source more focused.

Once this “global alignment” is complete, the team will move on to the third stage, called “image blending”, which will superimpose all 18 starlight sources to form a single image.

“We orient the points of the segments in the shape of this grid so that they have the same relative position as the physical mirrors,” said Matthew Lallo of the Space Telescope Institute, USA.

“During global alignment and image alignment, this familiar configuration gives the team an intuitive and natural way to visualize changes in segment locations within the context of the entire primary mirror. Now we can actually observe how the main mirror slowly takes its exact, planned shape!


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