NASA's James Webb Telescope has successfully completed the deployment procedure

NASA's James Webb Telescope has successfully completed the deployment procedure

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “The James Webb Space Telescope is an unprecedented mission that could allow us to see the light of the first galaxies and uncover the mysteries of our universe. Every achievement already achieved and future achievement is a testament to the thousands of innovators who poured the passion of their life into this mission ".

The two wings of Webb's primary mirror had been folded to fit inside the nose cone of an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket before launch. After more than a week of other critical spacecraft deployments, the Webb team began remotely unfolding the hexagonal segments of the primary mirror, the largest ever launched into space. This was a multi-day process, with the first part unveiling on January 7 and the second on January 8.

Ground control of the Mission Operations Center at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore has begun to unfold the second mirror side panel at 8:53 am EST. Once extended and locked in place at 1:17 p.m. EST, the team reported that all major deployments have been successfully completed.

The world's largest and most complex Space Science Telescope will now begin to shift its 18 primary mirror segments to align the optics of the telescope. The ground team will command 126 actuators on the back of the segments to flex each mirror, an alignment that will take months to complete. Then the team will calibrate the scientific instruments before delivering the first images of Webb this summer.

"I am so proud of the team, spanning continents and decades, that has led to this one-of-a-kind achievement," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington . “Webb's successful deployment exemplifies the best of what NASA has to offer: a willingness to try bold and challenging things in the name of as yet unknown discoveries.”

Soon, Webb will also face a third maneuver of mid-course correction, one of three planned to position the telescope exactly in orbit around the second Lagrange point, commonly known as L2, nearly 1 million miles from Earth. This is Webb's final orbital position, where his solar shield will protect him from light from the Sun, Earth and Moon that could interfere with observations of infrared light. Webb is designed to peer back over 13.5 billion years to capture infrared light from celestial objects, at much higher resolution than ever, and to study our solar system and distant worlds.

" The successful completion of all deployments of the Webb Space Telescope is historic, ”said Gregory L. Robinson, director of the Webb program at NASA headquarters. "This is the first time that a NASA-led mission has attempted to complete a complex sequence to deploy an observatory in space, a remarkable feat for our team, NASA and the world."

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