January 16, 2022

NASA completes key JWST deployments

Updated 5:55 pm East with comments from a post-deployment press conference.

WASHINGTON – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s main glass was unveiled on January 8, completing the key steps in the giant laboratory’s post-Eval deployment.

The controllers gave orders to assemble an assembly called the Starboard Primary Mirror Wing, which had 3 of the 18 sections of the main glass. The wings have been shown solely to give a sense of proportion. A similar wing on the other side of the main glass was replaced on January 7th.

Marked the end of the deployment of the two glass wings Key sequences of space telescopes It began shortly after launch on Ariane 5 on December 25th. Those efforts include the use of primary and secondary glasses, Its great sun shade And other devices like solar panel and antenna went on without any major problems.

“The last two weeks have been absolutely amazing,” said Bill O’Callaghan, JWST’s project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

He thanked the team of two engineers who oversaw the deployment, as well as Goddard and Northrop Krumman, the primary contractor for the work, who stored the spacecraft in its launch system last year. “If they hadn’t done it right, the last two weeks would not have gone as they did.”

Controllers celebrate the successful deployment of a section of the Primary Mirror, the final flagship deployment for the JWST, on January 8th. Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalls

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” Ochs later told a news conference. “Easily known, it emphasizes that we did all the right things that lead to this moment.”

These rankings represent only the end of a phase to operate the $ 10 billion space telescope. Over the next few months engineers will align the optics of the telescopic mirrors and check all four instruments of the monitor. The spacecraft will make a maneuver on January 23 to enter an elliptical orbit around the Earth-Sun L-2 longrange point 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Six months after the launch of JWST, science is ready to begin operations.

Lee Feinberg, element manager for JWST’s optical telescope at Goddard, told the conference that the mirrors would not be fully aligned for up to four months before work. At first he said “we expect them to be very false”, with a subtle process of aligning the glasses into a part of the wavelength. “It’s a long process, but at the end of it we expect to see a picture of a star that looks like a star.”

“This telescope is not ready out of the box. The first pictures are ugly, ”said Jane Rigby, a JWST action project scientist at Goddard. He said NASA did not plan to release those images and would wait until the telescope was fully aligned and the instruments ready. “We want to make sure that the first pictures the world sees are justified by this $ 10 billion telescope that humanity sees from this telescope.”

There were 344 single-point failures on the spacecraft, project officials said before the launch of JWST, primarily related to the deployment system. According to Mike Menzel, JWST’s Mission Systems Engineer at Goddard, all but 49 of the major deployments have been completed. “These 49 are common to all missions,” he said, as were the spacecraft’s propulsion system and equipment. In some cases, those failures only affect certain scientific goals, not the overall mission.

He also said that the precision launch of the spacecraft should extend its lifespan by reducing the propulsion to be used to achieve the L-2. “We now have a little bit of the fuel limit compared to 10 years ago,” the planned scientific lifespan of this work. “Roughly speaking, this is about 20 years of impetus.” NASA has previously said that precision launching would extend its lifespan “significantly”, but no figures have been released before.

Despite the work ahead, NASA officials celebrated the milestone of completing the deployments. “Although the journey is not complete, I will join the web team, breathe a little easier and imagine future developments that will inspire the world,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “Every achievement already made and future achievement is a testament to the thousands of inventors who have poured their lives into this work.”

NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen noted that the final deployment steps aired on NASA television have not been shaved since his introduction, which has been compared to the “playoff beards” that professional athletes grow. He thought the beard should grow until JWST was fully utilized.

With the wing of the final mirror folded, he hoped the beard would not last long. “I totally expect to shave today.”