Jan 10, 2022
The super-high-tech, $10-billion James Webb Space Telescope has launched on its quest to give us a peek of some of the earliest stars in the universe. The mission fully completed the final stage of its launch over the weekend after it unfolded the last section of a series of mirrors.
That required a tricky movement while in orbit. The telescope unfolded a sun shield roughly the size of a tennis court. It did so while hurtling through space. The shield keeps it in the dark and in extremely cold temperatures. That's to protect it from the sun's rays. It also ensures Webb's own heat won't prevent it from detecting heat from faraway stars.
NASA scientists guided the complex moves from an operations center in Baltimore. “How does it feel to make history, everybody? You just did it!” NASA's science chief told his team.
The NASA squad will have to continually refocus mirrors and fine tune instruments. And Webb must now undertake a month-long journey well beyond the moon’s orbit. There, it can complete a stable orbit around the sun.
Webb will be in orbit for up to 20 years. It's expected to send us colored images of some of the earliest and most distant galaxies and stars.
Photo from NASA.
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