The James Webb Space Telescope deploys its main mirror

The James Webb Space Telescope has been fully deployed, marking an important milestone in preparing the world’s most powerful space observatory for scientific operations. The telescope is on its way to its orbit around the sun and, during its journey, has deployed various components in a complex process.

The last component to deploy was the main mirror, which is the impressive collection of 18 golden hexagons spanning a total of 21 feet. The two mirror wings were deployed on Friday January 7 and Saturday January 8, after being folded back to fit inside the nose cone of the Ariane 5 rocket that launched the telescope on December 25, 2021.

Artist's conception of the James Webb Space Telescope.
James Webb Space Telescope Artist Design Nasa

“Today, NASA has taken a new step in engineering for decades. While the journey is not over, I am joining Team Webb to breathe a little easier and imagine the future breakthroughs that should inspire the world, ”NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a commentary. declaration. “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.

The mission is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. With the deployment complete, Webb is now heading into its orbit around Lagrange’s second point, known as L2, located 1 million kilometers from Earth. From there, he will be able to observe distant galaxies to learn more about the early universe and search for exoplanets to see if they have atmospheres and could potentially harbor life.

“I am so proud of the team – spanning continents and decades – that have achieved this one-of-a-kind achievement,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Directorate of Scientific Missions at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in the press release. “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. “

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