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As NASA Celebrates Successful Deployment of James Webb Telescope Mirror - What Happens Next?

dimanche 9 janvier 2022, 20:36 , par Slashdot
'Mirror, deployed,' NASA tweeted Saturday, confirming that the James Webb telescope 'has taken on its final form. For the next ~6 months, the space telescope will cool down, calibrate its instruments, and prepare to #UnfoldTheUniverse.'

With a diameter of 21.3 feet, the telescope's mirror is the largest mirror ever launched into space — a joint effort with the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency.

'Good news keep coming,' the ESA tweeted yesterday. ' Mike Menzel, NASA Webb Mission Systems Engineer said yesterday in press brief that Webb might have 'quite a bit of fuel margin... Roughly speaking, it's around 20 years of propellant', adding that's still to be determined.'

Long-time Slashdot reader cusco writes that 'For years naysayers have confidently declared that the numerous automated operations necessary to fully deploy the James Webb Space Telescope were going to guarantee its failure. Today they've been proven wrong.'

'Today, NASA achieved another engineering milestone decades in the making. While the journey is not complete, I join the Webb team in breathing a little easier and imagining the future breakthroughs bound to inspire the world,' said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. 'The James Webb Space Telescope is an unprecedented mission that is on the precipice of seeing the light from the first galaxies and discovering the mysteries of our universe. Each feat already achieved and future accomplishment is a testament to the thousands of innovators who poured their life's passion into this mission....'
The world's largest and most complex space science telescope will now begin moving its 18 primary mirror segments to align the telescope optics. The ground team will command 126 actuators on the backsides of the segments to flex each mirror — an alignment that will take months to complete. Then the team will calibrate the science instruments prior to delivering Webb's first images this summer.
'I am so proud of the team — spanning continents and decades — that delivered this first-of-its kind achievement,' said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate in NASA Headquarters in Washington. 'Webb's successful deployment exemplifies the best of what NASA has to offer: the willingness to attempt bold and challenging things in the name of discoveries still unknown.'

Soon, Webb will also undergo a third mid-course correction burn — one of three planned to place the telescope precisely in orbit around the second Lagrange point, commonly known as L2, nearly 1 million miles from Earth. This is Webb's final orbital position, where its sunshield will protect it from light from the Sun, Earth, and Moon that could interfere with observations of infrared light. Webb is designed to peer back over 13.5 billion years to capture infrared light from celestial objects, with much higher resolution than ever before, and to study our own solar system as well as distant worlds.

'The successful completion of all of the Webb Space Telescope's deployments is historic,' said Gregory L. Robinson, Webb program director at NASA Headquarters. 'This is the first time a NASA-led mission has ever attempted to complete a complex sequence to unfold an observatory in space — a remarkable feat for our team, NASA, and the world.'
Saturday the Canadian Space Agency tweeted 'Wow.... Congratulations to everyone involved. We can't wait to see what the telescope has in store for the international astronomy community!'

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Date Actuelle
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