The Webb Space Telescope deploys the secondary mirror when zooming in towards the final destination

An animation showing the deployment of the secondary mirror tripod.

The James Webb Space Telescope successfully deployed a tripod supporting the secondary mirror of the observatory, which was an important milestone for the mission.

Webb launched at Christmas, But many things have happened, including the successful deployment of the observatory’s solar array and five-layer sun visor, the latter being fully Just yesterday. Today, the Webb team turned its attention to the secondary mirror, which was the first in a series of deployments related to Webb optics.

The secondary mirror is 2.4 feet (0.77 meters) wide, At the top of the three long arms It is also one of the most important components of the US$10 billion observatory.

Weber is a Three anti-astigmatic telescope 21.3 feet wide (6.5 meters) large) Primary mirror, secondary mirror and tertiary mirror.The primary mirror uses its 18 gold-plated segments to collect incident light from distant stars, galaxies and exoplanets, and then reflects the focused beam arrive Secondary mirror.Then the beam will bounce back The main mirror enters the tertiary and fine steering mirrors. There, the precious light will eventually reach the four scientific instruments located behind the main mirror.

A view of the secondary image that was fully deployed during the test.

A view of the secondary image that was fully deployed during the test.
Photo: NASA/C. Gunn

The deployment of today’s secondary reflector tripod began at 10:40 AM Eastern Time. The first step is to release a series of launch locks to prevent damage to the folding telescope during launch. After a quick confidence check, the controller issued an order for the tripod to perform a small movement. After being satisfied with the result at 11:08 in the morning, the controller issued an order to perform a complete movement—to release the auxiliary support structure.

A data-driven, Real-time animated view of the telescope The deployment described is shown in a live webcast by NASA Tripod moving slowly In place. The two legs at the bottom moved into place, while the thigh with a hinge unfolded as expected.The support structure reached its fully extended position at 11:20 a.m. EDT, Approximately 11 minutes after issuing the complete move command. Then the controller locks the secondary mirror in place, and this process lasts for 45 minutes.

A broadcast screenshot of NASA's deployment of the secondary mirror, showing an animated view of the Webb telescope and the control room.

A broadcast screenshot of NASA’s deployment of the secondary mirror, showing an animated view of the Webb telescope and the control room.
Screenshot: NASA Television

The secondary reflective tripod was successfully deployed Prepare for the next step: test the mirror to make sure it moves as commanded. Assuming all goes well, the team will unfold and lock the two main mirror wings. While all this happens, the telescope and its scientific instruments will experience rapid cooling due to the sunshade in place.NASA Say It takes several weeks for Weber to reach a stable temperature.

The observatory is currently on its way to the destination, Lagrange Point 2, About 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from the earth.The scientific action should begin in about six months, when the infrared telescope will collect light from the first galaxies and stars in the universe..

more: This is where the Webb Space Telescope can still go wrong.

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