NASA takes another step towards commissioning the James Webb Space Telescope. The agency has successfully deployed JWST’s signature gold-coated primary mirror, completing all major deployments of the instrument. The mission crew have yet to align the telescope optics by moving the segments of the primary mirror (a process of several months), but this is a strong sign that the $ 10 billion device is in good shape.
The JWST also requires a third course correction as it heads to the Lagrange point L2 between the Earth and the Sun. Astronomers will use the point to study infrared light without interference, potentially offering information about the early universe that is not possible with Hubble and other equipment.
The first images from the telescope won’t be available until the summer, and it could take much longer before these images translate into meaningful discoveries. Even so, the deployment is an achievement. JWST represents the first time that NASA has unboxed a complex observatory in space – it shows that projects like this are viable, although they are unlikely to be mainstream in the near future.
#NASAWebb is fully deployed! ??
With the successful deployment and locking of our latest mirror wing, it’s:
50 major deployments, completed.
178 pins, released.
20+ years of work, completed.
– NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) January 8, 2022
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