Another milestone of space exploration has just been reached: the James Webb (JWST) space telescope has been properly deployed in all its main parts. Just a few minutes ago, NASA informed us that the 6.5-metre primary mirror is completely open.
The operation completed a few minutes ago will probably enter the history of space exploration: for the first time ever, NASA, ESA and CSA engineers have managed to make a complex maneuver to “span” and unfold the delicate sections of a space telescope,
In the official statement we can read: “Today, NASA has reached another milestone in engineering over decades of work. Although the trip is not complete, I join the Webb team to breathe a little more easily and imagine future discoveries destined to inspire the world.” These are the words of NASA administrator Bill Nelson. “The James Webb Space Telescope is an unprecedented mission. Every enterprise that has been or will be made is a testimony to the thousands of innovators who have poured their passion for life into this mission.”
Great excitement in the control room of the JWST, where a few minutes ago many people let themselves go to screams and applause of joy. The delicate operation began today at 3.30 p.m. of the Italian time zone, and was completed around 8:06 p.m. Now the primary mirror is open for all its sparkling extension, reaching an effective diameter of 6.5 meters.
The two wings of the Webb main mirror had been bent to fit inside the Ariane 5 rocket ogive in charge of the launch. After spending more than a week performing other critical deployments like the solar shield, the Webb team concluded all these operations.
A little relief and immediately you return to work intensely: the JWST trip is still full of pitfalls and there is a lot of work to do. Now that the telescope is stretched out, the 18 hexagonal sections of the mirror must be correctly oriented and calibrated. In the coming weeks (and months) this will be the primary task of mission specialists.
As usual, for all the most powerful telescope updates ever we invite you to constantly follow the pages of Everyeye.