James Webb Space Telescope: The main mirror is to be set up at the weekend

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Tomorrow, Saturday, the James Webb space telescope is due to fold out the complex main mirror and thus complete the complicated structure in space. This was announced by NASA, which wants to accompany the procedure live in the stream. Since there is no camera image from the telescope, experts on earth will have their say and explain the steps.

It should start at 3 p.m. CET at the earliest There is a live stream on NASA TV, among others. Then the second tilted “wing” should be cut forward. As soon as both are in position, “the unprecedented process of unfolding in space” will be completed, writes NASA, the space telescope could prepare the scientific work.

After the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) finally positioned the sun shield, secondary mirror and a cooling system, NASA also answered the frequently asked questionwhy there are no control cameras on board the instrument. In fact, it was checked whether cameras should not be added to observe the complicated assembly procedure. However, there were various arguments against this, as there would have to have been far too many cameras to be able to deliver really helpful images. In addition, the side facing the sun is much too bright and the side facing away from the sun is much too cold to be able to attach cameras without special precautions. Overall, the various sensors provided sufficient data to keep the condition of the telescope under control at all times.

The long-awaited Hubble successor JWST was launched on December 25th and has since been on the approximately one month journey to Lagrange point L2, which is four times as far from the earth as the moon. There, with the earth between itself and the sun, the telescope is protected from the sun, earth and moon by its tennis court-sized sun shield and looks into the depths of space.

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Because it is an infrared telescope, it has to be operated extremely cool in order not to disturb itself with its own infrared radiation. Only in summer 2022 will it have cooled down to the required 40 Kelvin (minus 233 degrees Celsius) and should then start work. The space telescope is currently over a million kilometers from Earth, and it’s just over 400,000 kilometers to its destination.

[Update 07.01.2022 – 20:40 Uhr] The second part of the main mirror will be unfolded on Saturday. The first has been in position since Friday nightannounced NASA. The message has been corrected accordingly.


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