James Webb Space Telescope has deployed all segments of hexagonal mirrors, says NASA

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta January 21, 2022
Updated 2022/01/21 at 8:31 AM

NASA said it has completed the deployment of all hexagonal mirror segments of its James Webb Space Telescope. The delicate operation to remove the individual mirror segments of the $10 billion (approximately Rs. 74,500 crore) space observatory from their launch positions took nearly a week, during which the engines made over a million revolutions. The space agency said engineers sent commands to small motors, called actuators, to slowly move each segment about half the length of a paperclip, so that each segment is positioned so that they have enough space for the alignment of the spacecraft. mirror. Engineers began a month-long process to bring the telescope into focus.

The James Webb Telescope’s primary mirror comprises 18 hexagonal segments of gold-plated beryllium metal. When all segments are lined up, the mirror measures 21 feet four inches in diameter. The primary mirror is much larger when compared to the Hubble Space Telescope, launched 30 years ago. The mightiest James Webb is set to replace Hubble shortly after its deployment processes are complete.

“The mirror deployment team incrementally moved all 132 actuators located behind the primary mirror and secondary mirror segments. The primary mirror segments have been moved 12.5 mm away from the telescope frame,” said Erin Wolf, Webb program manager at Ball Aerospace, a Colorado-based company that designed and built the telescope’s advanced optical technology and lightweight mirror system. , on a blog publish.

To better understand how these motors, or actuators, work, NASA previously shared a GIF explaining the function.

NASA also shared a “fun fact” on Twitter. He said the beryllium metal used in the 18 hexagonal segments of the primary mirror is six times stronger than steel. “But even against the strength of beryllium, the engines can actually individually shape the curvature of each segment of the mirror,” he added.

The 18 segments were bent to fit inside an Ariane 5 rocket that took the telescope into space after launch on December 25. The telescope is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

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