NASA unfolded its James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) massive mirror for the last time before its next launch. Is it the mission? To turn everything we grasp about the cosmos. Opened for the final time on Earth on Tuesday, 11th May, officials from NASA and Northrop Grumman considered the significance of the mirror’s deployment and following steps for the mission as it plans for launch later from South America this year.
The 9.8 billion dollar Webb, which is billed as the successor to NASA’s iconic Hubble Space Telescope, revealed its 21.3-foot-wide original mirror recently during a test at the Los Angeles-area facilities of its leading builder, the aerospace giant Northrop Grumman. This mirror, which is formed of 18 hexagonal segments, is too wide to fit inside the payload fairing of any operational rocket, therefore it will launch in a compact configuration and deploy after entering space. The ongoing test is the final major trial for the mirror system, and its completion marks a significant milestone on the path to launch, mission team members stated.
According to NASA, the next-generation James Webb Space Telescope will be the largest and most influential space science observatory. With its infrared eyes, it will study the oldest and distant stars in the universe. Its powerful instruments, designed to watch the atmospheres of planets around the stars, could usher in a new era of astronomy. “The discovery capability of Webb is restricted only by our imaginations, and scientists around the world will be using general-purpose observatory to take us areas we have not dreamed of going before,” Eric Smith, a Webb program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., stated in a news briefing Tuesday.
According to NASA, the telescope is supposed to help scientists fully understand the solar system and planetary systems around other, more distant host stars.