NASA completes James Webb final deployment — Here’s what’s next for the space telescope
NASAhas successfully completed deploying the major parts of the James Webbtelescope.
- It will now begin to journey towards its final destination which is 1.5 million kms away from Earth.
- But there’s still a series of alignments to be done for the telescope to capture its first images.
NASA launched the James Webb space telescope on December 25, 2021 and what followed were a series of deployments for it to take shape. Last Saturday, the Webb completed its final deployment which was of the primary mirror. What remains now, well actually starts is the mission of the James Webb telescope.
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James Webb is the largest space telescope ever built and its mission is to help scientists find out more about the origin of the universe. The telescope will do so by capturing infrared light from celestial objects and with “much higher resolution than ever before”. In addition to studying about our solar system, the James Webb telescope is expected to learn more about distant worlds too. The James Webb telescope is a joint collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency.
James Webb mission
Webb's final destination is called the second Lagrange point or L2 which is located 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth. The telescope will perform a third mid-course correction burn which is one of three planned to place it precisely in orbit around L2. Here, the telescope will orbit the sun while staying in line with Earth. The telescope will also be protected by the sun’s radiation and other sources of heat and light by the sunshield that will keep the instruments cool enough to operate.
Prior to arriving at the final spot, the James Webb telescope will first arrive at its insertion point which is expected to take place on January 23. From here, it will fire its engines to travel to the Lagrange Point. At the same time, the Webb team will also prepare to align the 18 hexagonal mirror segments of the telescope’s primary mirror. This alignment is expected to take months to complete, and after which the telescope will be ready to produce the first set of images.
Webb's first set of images are expected to include objects such as stars and the Large Magellanic Cloud which is a satellite galaxy of the milky way. These images will also showcase the telescope’s four science instruments. The duration of the mission will be five years but NASA has kept a goal of 10 years.
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