James Webb Telescope successfully unfolds mirror in space

james webb telescope, james webb mirror
© NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez

NASA have successfully unfolded the 21-foot gold-coated primary mirror of the James Webb telescope, which is the largest telescope to be launched into space

The James Webb Telescope has successfully unfolded its 21-foot mirror in space. The mirror, made up of 18 sections, will sense light from great distances – unlike any other telescope that launched before it.

“An unprecedented mission”

In a collaboration between The Canadian Space Agency, NASA and the European Space Agency, the James Webb Telescope was launched into space on Christmas Day, 2021.

“NASA achieved another engineering milestone decades in the making. While the journey is not complete, I join the Webb team in breathing a little easier and imagining the future breakthroughs bound to inspire the world,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“The James Webb Space Telescope is an unprecedented mission that is on the precipice of seeing the light from the first galaxies and discovering the mysteries of our universe. Each feat already achieved and future accomplishment is a testament to the thousands of innovators who poured their life’s passion into this mission.”

It will now make a four-week long journey, four times further than the distance of the moon to Earth. The telescope is expected to go roughly 1.5 million km from Earth, which coupled with its power and size, will give scientists access to unparalleled data on the universe.

286 requests to use James Webb data accepted

In over 1,000 academic proposals for accessing the soon-to-exist James Webb Telescope data, just 286 were accepted. These observations will begin to answer questions about life outside of Earth, other worlds, the way that stars live and die, and how the early universe really evolved.

“The successful completion of all of the Webb Space Telescope’s deployments is historic,” said Gregory L. Robinson, Webb program director at NASA Headquarters.

“This is the first time a NASA-led mission has ever attempted to complete a complex sequence to unfold an observatory in space – a remarkable feat for our team, NASA, and the world.”


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