Washington The largest and most expensive space telescope ever built has been in space for almost two weeks. It will take months for “James Webb” to become operational – but has now reached critical stages.
Before the “James Webb” Space Telescope, which was recently launched into space, goes into operation, further critical steps have been completed.
On the one hand, a sunshade of the telescope, about the size of a tennis court, has been completely opened, according to the US space agency NASA.
On the other hand, the secondary mirror system was installed on Wednesday. It reflects light from the main mirror and is necessary for the telescope to function correctly. This entails some of the most complex procedures in telescope setup.
It’s an “incredible milestone” that is extremely important to the mission’s success, Webb program director Gregory Robinson said Tuesday (local time) of the opening of the Sun Protection at NASA Headquarters in Washington. He spoke of the “miracle of technology”. The telescope, jointly built by space agencies in Europe, the US and Canada, aims to locate the oldest galaxies in space.
Robinson said that during the eight-day deployment of the protective cover, thousands of parts had to work together properly. According to NASA, the shielding device will protect the telescope from light and heat from the Sun, Earth and Moon and enable it to operate at temperatures below minus 229 degrees.
So it has five layers. It states that each foil is as thin as a human hair and is coated with reflective metal. The resulting protection is roughly equivalent to a sun protection factor of one million.
The telescope was launched on 25 December on an Ariane launcher from the European Space Station Kourou in French Guiana. The Web team began deploying sun protection three days later. Like all others, the maneuvers were controlled from Earth, the telescope is unmanned. According to NASA, it will take about five and a half months for the preparations to be fully completed.
The telescope is expected to fly 1.5 million kilometers into space and take about four weeks for this distance. Scientists hope that the images will provide information about, among other things, the time after the Big Bang, about 13.8 billion years ago. The first data and images from the telescope are not expected until summer at the earliest.
According to the operator, the James Webb telescope was developed for about 30 years and cost about 10 billion dollars (8.8 billion euros). It follows the “Hubble” telescope, which has been in use for more than 30 years.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220105-99-595412/4
Internet fan. Alcohol expert. Beer ninja. Organizer. Certified tv specialist. Explorer. Social media nerd.