The James Webb Space Telescope has accomplished one of the most challenging tasks involved in our mission to explore the depths of the universe. This week, NASA Successfully installed JWST’s 70-foot sunshield. The system is essential for the operation of the telescope. This will ensure that its devices are not colder than minus 380 degrees Fahrenheit so that they are cool enough to see the infrared light that is designed to track the web.
Three days after the telescope’s success, NASA began placing the Sunshield December 25 launch. The whole unveiling process took a good eight days, with one day break for the agency to optimize the web’s power systems and tensioning motors. When you consider all the elements involved, it’s easy to see why NASA says the process was so challenging. In all, 139 release mechanisms, 70 hinge assemblies, eight motors, about 400 pulleys, and about a quarter-mile of cabling are involved to unlock and tighten the shield. If one of these elements failed, they could reset the entire project.
After all, it would have been another delay in the long line of disaster. After a redesign in 2005, NASA declared JWST ready 2016, But the complexity of production delayed assembly 2019. The coronavirus epidemic then led to further delays in shipping and testing of the telescope. Scientists have more work to do before using the web to study black holes and other celestial objects. In the next five and a half months, NASA will have to install secondary mirrors of the telescope as well as align its optics. After so much, the world will get a chance to see its first pictures.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of these links, we can earn an affiliate commission.