The sign of admiration began. Because as a space telescope flies through the vast universe, thousands of parts must unfold correctly and in the right order.
Last Saturday, on Christmas Day, it was time: The highly anticipated launch of the James Webb Telescope. And successfully. Because despite the many setbacks the telescope has faced in recent years, the launch has gone smoothly. Now he started raising the thumb. Because the upcoming period is an incredibly exciting period, in which thousands of parts must be revealed correctly and in the correct order.
The James Webb Telescope consists of several parts. Upon launch, all of those parts were neatly folded together. But as the telescope heads to its final destination, more and more elements will appear. This is definitely not a wild race. According to NASA, after launch, things could still go wrong at about 300 points, for the telescope to not function optimally.
In full swings
Right now, the opening of the Great Space Telescope – and thus a thumbs up – is in full swing. The solar panels were already detected about thirty minutes after launch. These are now fully deployed and working properly. Yesterday I followed the antennas. Using antennas, the space telescope will be able to transmit at least 28.6 gigabytes of scientific data back to Earth twice a day. In addition, temperature sensors on the telescope are also activated, allowing technicians to monitor the telescope’s thermal systems.
More and more parts will follow in the coming period. In particular, unlocking the massive sun shield, the length of a tennis court, would be exciting. The sun shield is of critical importance to the work of the telescope. This shield folds around the telescope’s mirrors and instruments like an umbrella and protects, among other things, the highly sensitive infrared instruments – which must be kept extremely cold to function – from the sun’s heat. The first steps to deploy the sun shield will be taken today.
Another nerve-wracking moment will be the opening of the mirrors. James Webb is equipped with a main mirror (consisting of eighteen individual mirrors that work together as one large mirror) and a secondary mirror. On the tenth day of the mission, the secondary mirror will be ready. This mirror is one of the most important parts of the telescope and is essential to the success of the mission. Thus no error can occur during detection. The mirror is located on three bars extending from the main mirror to the secondary mirror. This small round mirror plays a very important role in collecting light from the main mirror. The idea is that the primary mirror collects faint light from the first and most distant galaxies, among other things. The secondary mirror then reflects the light collected by the primary mirror in James Webb’s onboard science instruments. It is important that the mirrors are installed correctly, because an aberration of more than 38 nanometers – a thousandth of the thickness of a human hair – can cause problems. The primary mirror begins to unfold on the twelfth day.
Watch in this video when all the selected parts are expanded.
In total, it will take James Webb 29 days to equip all his parts. And that’s while the telescope is also fast heading to its final destination: a place about 1.6 million kilometers from Earth. It’s expected to be a nerve-wracking period, when a lot can still go wrong. But if the telescope successfully completes its journey, it will officially conclude the most difficult and complex propagation sequence ever conducted in space.
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