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The next few weeks for NASA’s James Webb telescope are going to be the most crucial, here’s why

Dec 27, 2021, 10:24 IST
Business Insider India
For the James Webb telescope to fully take shape, there will be 50 major deployments and 178 release mechanisms. NASA
  • NASA’s ambitious James Webb telescope finally launched on December 25.
  • This telescope will help us learn more about how the universe came into existence.
  • But before its mission, there are some challenging deployments for the telescope in space.
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NASA successfully launched the James Webb telescope on Christmas, its largest and most powerful space science telescope. The $10 billion telescopes through its mission will help us learn more about how the universe came into existence.

The James Webb telescope made its historic launch on December 25 after decades of development, and several delays. NASA, including the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency are jointly taking part in this mission. The first major hurdle of this mission is over but there are several challenges that the team behind the Webb telescope has to overcome.

What makes the James Webb unique and also one of the most complicated telescopes in terms of design is its movable parts that have been folded for a compact shape. This makes the telescope small enough to fit inside the 16-foot Ariane 5 rocket. For the honeycomb-shaped telescope to fully take shape, there will be 50 major deployments and 178 release mechanisms.

The initial deployments which include the solar array and the gimbaled antenna assembly were successfully completed following the satellite’s launch. This antenna will be used to send around 28.6GB of data down from the observatory, twice a day, NASA had tweeted.

The James Webb telescope will face one of its biggest deploying challenges on December 28 which would be the sunshield that has a five-layer structure, each the size of a tennis court. This sunshield will require many motors for its deployment and the process is said to take five days to complete.

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The next components to be deployed include the secondary mirror and the instrument radiator in early January. After this, the primary mirror of the telescope will be deployed with its two side wings unfolding and taking the final shape.

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