James Webb Space Telescope completes unfolding of its primary mirror and closes large deployments

The James Webb Telescope (JWST) has finished unfolding its primary mirror, ending a series of major deployments that took place over the span of two weeks. All those implementations had to be perfect for the huge space telescope, which was decades in the making, to function.

The JWST has two primary mirror panels on either side that it will use to collect infrared light from the distant Universe. Each of them consists of three gilded hexagonal mirrors. Today the rightmost wing has successfully deployed, just one day after the leftmost wing was deployed. With both sides locked in place, this completes the array of 18 mirrors that make up the 21-foot-wide JWST.

The JWST was launched into space on Christmas Day, and since the full-size mirror was too large to fit on a rocket, scientists designed it so that its components could fold, something never done before. When the JWST reached space, the precarious unfolding process began. Earlier this week, the spacecraft passed its most complex hurdle: deploying a sunshade that JWST uses to block out the sun’s light and keep its instruments cold. Now that JWST is in its final form, scientists will have to play with the mirrors a bit more to make sure they align, and continue to calibrate the instruments to get it ready to reveal the secrets of the universe. to reveal.

In about two weeks, the JWST will reach its final destination in deep space. We’ll have to wait until summer to get some of the first images from the JWST, but it’ll probably be worth the wait.