The James Webb Telescope, developed by NASA has successfully deployed its primary mirror for the first time. It is a milestone for the American space agency. NASA had paused all work related to this telescope because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This delayed the process. But now, NASA has given the world something to look forward to.
In a recent test, the James Webb Telescope successfully extended and unfold its entire primary mirror. The mirror covers 6.5 meters in length. This the largest full-mirror built by NASA.
As a part of the test, the mirror was hooked to customized gravity-offset equipment that resembles the zero-gravity space environment. But the entire experiment took place in a controlled environment that resembles space. NASA says the engineers will deploy the telescope’s primary mirror once more before it is ready for launch.
What is the importance of NASA James Webb telescope?
The James Webb telescope is a next-generation future proof instrument. But the mirror’s size has got more to offer. It is the most critical piece in this instrument because a mirror’s size is directly proportional to the sensitivity of the telescope. It determines the amount of light the telescope can collect to observe the object.
In a recent test, #NASAWebb fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space. This helps safeguard mission success by physically demonstrating that Webb is able to move and unfold as intended. More: https://t.co/RPLAIOXnQV pic.twitter.com/k7zfYjxM6T
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) March 31, 2020
Webb is the largest telescope to date. It needs the mirror to be really big, for the instrument to be as powerful as possible. The mirror has the ability to fold up and then unfurl. This is crucial because the mirror needs to fit inside the rocket.
The evolving novel coronavirus COVID-19 situation is causing a significant impact and disruption globally. In these circumstances, Webb’s Northrop Grumman team in California is integrating and testing work with reduced personnel and shifts until the Deployable Tower Assembly set up in April. The project will reassess over the next couple of weeks and adjust decisions as the situation continues to unfold.
Lee Feinberg, the optical telescope manager at Nasa, says, ” it is another significant milestone showing Webb will deploy properly in space. It is a great achievement and an inspiring image for the whole team”.
Suryapratim Ray is an engineer, author, robotics hobbyist, and an active Quoran. Being a technical blogger, he covers the good, bad, and ugly of science on a regular basis at Sciencenews18. In addition to his passion for writing, he’s equally keen on learning classical music.