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The Webb Space Telescope Installs Its Essential Sun Visor

Artistic concept for the Webb Telescope.

Artistic concept for the Webb Telescope.
Image: NASA

NASA, after a slight technical delay, is now protracted all five layers of the Webb telescope sun shield.

Tensioning the first three layers started early Monday morning, the process lasted nearly six hours. The other two layers are those that fathe most right of the Sun were protracted NASA announced today in tweet… This is long awaited news how to successfully deploy sun protection kits Stage for the next stage of the mission: Deployment of the giant telescope mirror.

Measuring 47 feet (14.3 meters) across and 70 feet (21.3 meters) longa kite-shaped sunscreen will protect Webb from stellar radiation and minimize interference from the observatory’s instruments. Webb needs this shield to function properly, making it a critical part of the mission, but getting all five membranes to stretch tightly is harder than it sounds.

James Cooper, NASA’s manager of Webb’s sunscreens, said that “the complex interactions between structures, tension mechanisms, cables and membranes” make this stage so difficult, as he explained in a NASA blog post… “It was the hardest thing to test on the ground,” he added, stating that the Northrop Grumman and NASA team “are doing great.”

On the briefing Together with reporters on Monday, Bill Ochs, Webb’s project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said about three-quarters of the observatory’s 344 potential points of failure would be eliminated once the sunscreen was fully tensioned.

Last week, placing two arrows on either side of the observatory required longer than expected, so dispatchers were given a day off on January 1 to rest. Then a tightening of the sun visor was planned for Jan. 2, but instead NASA used the day solve a couple of small issues. Specifically, the team had to rebalance Webb’s solar array to get more power, and reorient the spacecraft to reduce the amount of sunlight hitting the motors used for tensioning. according at NASA.

The delay also allowed the team to study how Webb behaves in the new space environment. “Nothing we can learn from simulations on the ground is better than analyzing the observatory when it is up and running,” says Ohs. explained v message dated January 2. “It’s time to seize the opportunity to learn everything there is to know about his core operations.”

A short pause is not a problem because now the team has no time trouble; NASA is talking “Flexibility [is] built into the schedule. ” The is the next step now is an to deploy the tripod holding the secondary mirror.

If we discard minor glitches, everything seems to be going extremely well, knock on the wood. As an added bonus, Webb’s launch accuracy marks this historic mission. can last over 10 years, due to fuel economy. The observatory is expected to enter the scientific phase of its mission in about six months, when it will closely observe the oldest galaxies in the universe in search of new exos.planets and scan distant atmospheres in search of extraterrestrial life.

More: Here’s what could go wrong with the Webb Space Telescope

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