Major NASA James Webb components deployed. What’s next?

(ORDO NEWS) — Now we can all breathe a sigh of relief as the deployment of the giant “golden mirror” of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is complete.

So, the main components of the largest and most powerful telescope in history are deployed and it continues to move towards its destination.

The deployment, completed on January 8, 2022 , marks an important milestone for the James Webb space mission, as well as for cosmology in general.

The 18-segment main mirror – the largest ever sent into space – is designed to revolutionize astronomy with an unprecedented view of space.

“NASA has reached another engineering milestone it has been preparing for for decades,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson commented on the success.

“While the journey is not yet complete, I am joining the Webb team [of the James Webb Telescope] so that we can all breathe a sigh of relief and envision future breakthroughs that should inspire the world.”

“The successful completion of all Webb Space Telescope deployments is historic,” said Gregory Robinson, NASA’s James Webb Program Manager.

The James Webb Space Telescope is an unprecedented mission to see the light of the first galaxies and uncover the secrets of our universe.

Every deployment, every success, and every future achievement is a testament to the success of thousands of innovators who have dedicated their lives to organizing this mission.

Currently, “James Webb” is heading towards his new home, a place about 1.6 million kilometers from Earth , in an area called the second Lagrange point (L2). Here, at L2, the combined gravitational forces of two massive bodies (in this case, the Earth and the Sun) create a small region of gravitational stability.

It is expected that by the end of January the telescope will take a position behind the Earth relative to the Sun.

NASA’s next steps

As the James Webb flies, scientists here on Earth will begin issuing commands to prepare the telescope for future exploration. Towards the end of January, engineers will begin to correct the intermediate course, which will ensure the achievement of L2.

Once the telescope arrives, the precision aiming sensor, NIR camera, and NIR spectrograph will turn on, taking blurry (because the mirrors will not be focused yet) pictures to make sure everything is working.

Then the specialists will begin to remotely adjust the mirror. This process, which will take several months, will involve controlling 126 extremely precise actuators behind a gold-plated mirror to drive each segment individually.

Calibration will then begin and the team will run a full diagnostic to ensure that the James Webb is working as expected.

Finally, if everything goes according to plan, the innovative space telescope will be ready to begin scientific activities sometime in June or July 2022.

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