The telescope has extended its “neck,” where the mirrors rest, among other things, paving the way for the next crucial step: fully opening the sun shield.
The James Webb Great Telescope has already been on its way for several days to its final destination at a distance of 1.6 million kilometers from Earth. Meanwhile, the thousands of parts that make up the telescope must be carefully unraveled. One of the most exciting parts will be the exposure of the massive sun shield. The payment process, which extends to Webb’s neck, has been completed successfully.
James Webb made a “long neck” in space, as it were. Because just like the famous fictional character from Efteling, the telescope has extended its “neck,” where the mirrors are anchored, among other things. The neck is now about 1.22 meters long. This maneuver created a space between the upper section of the observatory – which holds the mirrors and scientific instruments – and the lower section – where the electronics and propulsion systems are located.
⬆️ Alert! At about 9 AM ET we started expanding # PeopleDeployable turret assembly, which creates space between the spacecraft and the telescope, helping to keep the telescope cool and giving room for the sun visor to deploy. This may take more than 6 hours. https://t.co/h3q2S1MvtW #UnfoldTheUniverse pic.twitter.com/huGb7VO6nG
– NASA’s Web Telescope (NASAWebb) December 29, 2021
By the way, this “long neck” was not just done. It took about six and a half hours to achieve in total. First, technicians activated the unlockers, configured software and electronics before the “neck” – which looked like a large black tube – was stretched. This movement was powered by a compact motor.
Thanks to the neck extension, there’s now enough space to keep mirrors and delicate tools cool. This is necessary to be able to detect infrared light. In addition, the hatch created now provides enough space for the next critical step: fully opening the sun shield.
The unveiling of the massive sun shield, the length of which reaches a tennis court, will be very 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.
Meanwhile, James Webb has already successfully revealed many parts. In total, it will take James Webb 29 days to equip all his parts.
So we’ll have to bite our nails for a while. Because there are still some basic steps ahead. At the moment, the telescope appears to be working properly. In fact, it exceeds expectations. Yesterday, NASA announced that after launch, there will be enough fuel for research for more than ten years. This means we can count on a lot of great discoveries from this largest space telescope ever.
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