NASA’s James Webb Telescope Opens Its “Golden Eye” Mirror | Radio-Canada News


NASA’s new space telescope opened its massive gold-plated flower-shaped mirror on Saturday, the latest step in the observatory’s spectacular deployment.

The last part of the 6.5-meter mirror fell into place at the behest of flight controllers, completing the deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope.

“I’m moved about it. What an incredible step. We now see this magnificent pattern in the sky, ”said Thomas Zurbuchen, chief of science missions at NASA.

More powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, America’s $ 10 billion Webb will scan the cosmos for light from the first stars and galaxies formed 13.7 billion years ago.

Engineering teams are celebrating the deployment of the second main mirror wing of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore on Saturday, before beginning the process of locking the mirror wing in place. (Bill Ingalls / NASA / The Bharat Express News)

To do this, NASA had to equip Webb with the largest and most sensitive mirror ever launched – his “golden eye,” as scientists call it.

Webb is so big it had to be folded origami-style to fit in the rocket that left South America two weeks ago. The riskiest operation occurred earlier in the week, when the tennis court-sized sun visor deployed, providing sub-zero shadow for the mirror and infrared sensors.

The primary mirror began to open on Friday

Baltimore flight controllers began opening the main mirror on Friday, unfolding the left side like a drop-down table.

The mood was even more upbeat on Saturday, with upbeat music filling the control room as the right side fell into place. After cheering, the controllers immediately got back to work, locking everything down.

The mirror is made of beryllium, a light metal but strong and resistant to cold. Each of its 18 segments is covered with an ultra-thin gold layer, highly reflective of infrared light.

The coffee table sized hexagonal segments need to be adjusted in the days and weeks ahead so that they can focus as one on stars, galaxies and alien worlds that may contain atmospheric signs of life. . .

Bill Ochs, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope project manager, monitors the progress of the observatory’s second primary mirror wing as it falls into place on Saturday. (Bill Ingalls / NASA / The Bharat Express News)

Webb is expected to reach his destination 1.6 million kilometers in two more weeks. If all goes well, scientific observations will begin this summer.

Astronomers hope to look within 100 million years of the Big Bang that formed the universe, closer than Hubble did.


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