NASA has announced the full deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope’s 20-foot primary mirror.
The team responsible for the space observatory kicked off the unfolding process for the mirror on Friday, Jan. 7th, and completed it the next day, NASA said Sunday.
The development came days after the space telescope’s sunshield completed full deployment. The Webb spacecraft launched in December aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from the European Space Agency’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
Webb will now move its 18 primary mirror segments to facilitate the alignment of telescope optics. The ground team will direct 126 actuators to flex each mirror and then calibrate the science instruments before the telescope starts to transmit initial images by summer.
“The James Webb Space Telescope is an unprecedented mission that is on the precipice of seeing the light from the first galaxies and discovering the mysteries of our universe. Each feat already achieved and future accomplishment is a testament to the thousands of innovators who poured their life’s passion into this mission,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
The space observatory will then perform a third midcourse correction burn in order for Webb to reach its orbital destination around the second Lagrange point, also known as L2.