The James Webb Space Telescope unfolds shields and mirrors: When will it send the first photograph of deep space?

Webb’s space telescope has completed a complex mirror layout this week and is nearing its destination at L2, where it will orbit the Sun more than 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. But we will have to wait a while for the first images of deep space.

Webb moves to the second Lagrange point, which is a position in space that will allow the telescope to consume a minimum of fuel to maintain its position. From point L2, the telescope will observe the early universe and exoplanets in the infrared and near-infrared spectra. The telescope is expected to change our understanding of the birth and evolution of the universe as it sees “further” than the obsolete Hubble Space Telescope, Webb ‘s predecessor, which was launched in 1990.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be almost impossible to repair due to the distance. The visualization of NASA below shows where the so-called L2 point is located.

Point L2 is approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. With current technologies, any service interventions will be virtually impossible. But that may change in the future. Photo: Courtesy of NASA

Space puzzles turned out well

Cosmic James Webb’s telescope launched into space on December 25, 2021 from French Guiana and has since covered more than 1,000,000 kilometers in space. The telescope did not degrade until its launch into space during its journey to point L2, as it had to be folded into compact dimensions due to its dimensions and launch into orbit. The telescope gradually unfolded the sun visor and deployed mirrors, with the second step being completed this week.

Webb má primary mirror composed of 18 segmentswhich are set perpendicular to the sunshine. The segments of the main mirror are movable and had to be moved individually to the correct place. Bill Nelson, director of NASA, on Wednesday confirmed the successful completion of the deployment of mirrors.

Image: The James Webb Space Telescope unfolds shields and mirrors: When will it send the first photograph of deep space?

The main mirror consists of 18 segments. It is protected from the sun by a heat shield. Photo: Courtesy of NASA

The position of the mirrors will need to be adjusted

Over the next few months, the position of the mirrors will be slightly adjusted so that the whole system is ideally optically adjusted and the observation results are as good as possible. Now that the deployment is complete, there is only one important step left: the last ignition of the engines before reaching point L2. In the future, there will occasionally be minor detours to correct the telescope’s trajectory.

The telescope is expected to arrive in L2 orbit on Monday, January 24th. It then takes approximately five months of gradual commissioning to prepare all systems for accurate scientific observations. It should continue for more than 10 years, so there is nothing to rush.

Source: NASA

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