The James Web Space Telescope successfully completed the last phase of its deployment on Saturday with its main mirror. It is now in its final stages, and in more than five months, it will be able to begin its study of the universe.
The telescope’s iconic main glass was 6.5 meters in diameter, so it was too large to fit when it was launched into the rocket two weeks ago. Both sides of it were thus folded.
The first of these two wings was used on Friday and the second was scheduled to open Saturday morning, NASA said. Space agency teams continued to lock it up to protect it permanently.
“I’m flexible,” NASA’s head of scientific missions Thomas Surbuchen said live via video. ‘What an extraordinary move.’
Very dangerous task
Placing such a telescope in space, not only its mirrors but also its thermal shield earlier this week, is a very dangerous process that has not been carried out in the past. Astronomers around the world can breathe a sigh of relief today because this mission is so successful now.
However, before operation, the telescope must still reach its final orbit of 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, and must be continuously cooled before scientific instruments can be measured very accurately.
James Webb, the most powerful space laboratory ever designed, should make it possible for the Big Bang to observe the first galaxies to form about 200 million years later. It flies from Baltimore on the east coast of the United States. NASA aired live footage from the control room Saturday morning, where dozens of engineers applauded happily at the announcement of the full deployment.
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