The James Webb Space Telescope completed its two-week deployment phase on Saturday, revealing the final mirror panel as it prepares to study each stage of cosmic history.
Engineering teams cheered again at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland as NASA announced on Twitter that the latest wing had been deployed.
Two weeks after launch, Tweet embed He achieved his biggest achievement: the mirrors were deployed and the next generation telescope took its final shape.
Next up for the web? Five months of alignment and calibration before we start getting the images: pic.twitter.com/BOj5O1HS37
– NASA (@NASA) January 8, 2022
“I’m emotional about it – what an amazing milestone,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s chief engineer, said during the live video stream as stargazers around the world celebrated.
Because the telescope was too large to fit into the rocket’s nose cone in its operational configuration, it was moved folded upwards.
Operation Unfurling was a complex and challenging task—the most daunting project ever, according to NASA.
“We still have work to do,” NASA said while the wing was fixed in place. “When the last latch is safe, the NASA Web will be fully opened into space.”
The most powerful space telescope ever built and behind Hubble, an Ariane 5 rocket blasted off from French Guiana on December 25, heading toward its orbit point, 1 million miles (1.5 million km) from Earth.
Although Webb will reach his space destination, known as Lagrange Point II, in a matter of weeks, he still has about five and a half more months to prepare.
The next steps include aligning the telescope’s optics, and calibrating its scientific instruments.
the ends of the universe
Its infrared technology will allow it to see the first stars and galaxies that formed 13.5 billion years ago, giving astronomers a new view of the early universe.
Earlier this week, the telescope deployed its five-layer sunscreen – a 70-foot (21 m) kite-shaped device that acts as a parachute, ensuring that Webb’s instruments are kept in the shade so they can detect faint infrared signals from ends of the universe.
The sunvisor will be permanently placed between the telescope and the sun, Earth and Moon, with the side facing the sun built to withstand 230°F (110°C).
Visible and ultraviolet light emitted by the first luminous objects was stretched due to the expansion of the universe, and today arrives in the form of infrared radiation, which Webb was equipped to detect with unprecedented clarity.
Its mission also includes the study of distant planets to determine their origin, evolution, and habitability.
NASA’s Telescope Blog said Saturday’s procedure was “the last major deployment to the observatory.”
“Completing it will pave the way for the remaining five and a half months of operation, which consists of stabilizing at a stable operating temperature, aligning mirrors, and calibrating scientific instruments.”