James Webb Space Telescope Successfully Deploys Secondary Mirror – “Another Banner Day for JWST!”

Webb Space Telescope Secondary Mirror Deployment

Webb Space Telescope Secondary Mirror deployment. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

Webb successfully deployed its secondary mirror support structure today, a key step in its mission. This precise operation involved extending a complex structure to focus light into the telescope’s instruments, now ready for the next stage of deploying a heat management system.

Today, Webb teams successfully deployed the observatory’s secondary mirror support structure. When light from the distant universe hits Webb’s iconic 18 gold primary mirrors, it will reflect off and hit the smaller, 2.4-foot (.74-meter) secondary mirror, which will direct the light into its instruments. The secondary mirror is supported by three lightweight deployable struts that are each almost 25 feet long and are designed to withstand the space environment. Specialized heating systems were used to warm up the joints and motors needed for seamless operation.

“Another banner day for JWST,” said Bill Ochs, Webb project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, as he congratulated the secondary mirror deployment team at the Mission Operations Center in Baltimore. “This is unbelievable…We’re about 600,000 miles from Earth, and we actually have a telescope.”

The deployment process began at approximately 9:52 a.m. EST, and the secondary mirror finished moving into its extended position at about 11:28 a.m. EST. The secondary mirror support structure was then latched at about 11:51 a.m. EST. At approximately 12:23 p.m. EST, engineers confirmed that the structure was fully secured and locked into place and the deployment was complete.

“The world’s most sophisticated tripod has deployed,” said Lee Feinberg, optical telescope element manager for Webb at Goddard. “That’s really the way one can think of it. Webb’s secondary mirror had to deploy in microgravity, and in extremely cold temperatures, and it ultimately had to work the first time without error. It also had to deploy, position, and lock itself into place to a tolerance of about one and a half millimeters, and then it has to stay extremely stable while the telescope points to different places in the sky – and that’s all for a secondary mirror support structure that is over 7 meters in length.”

Next Webb will deploy an important radiator system known as the aft deployable instrument radiator (ADIR), which helps shed heat away from its instruments and mirrors. Learn more about Webb’s deployment timeline online.

3 Comments on "James Webb Space Telescope Successfully Deploys Secondary Mirror – “Another Banner Day for JWST!”"

  1. I sure hope someone remembered to take the lens cap off.

  2. So far so good, better than expected, so well done, fingers crossed no real hitched . What marvels await us.

  3. No one had planned for refueling Webb’s thrusters (maybe, through a drone!… and having it’s̲ own on-board thrusters!) to extend the Webb’s said 10-year life-span?… it almost seems like a deliberate excuse to expend another 10 billion+ dollars to send up a, “JWST 2/ Webb 2”– and based upon a simple matter of refueling thrusters!

    Surely, Editor, there must be a way to refuel every thruster that the JWST possesses!… and, there is more than sufficient time to ensure that the refueling technoma can reach the JWST/ Webb before it exhausts it’s̲ respective thrusters’ fuel supplies!

    Editor!… does it seem plausible to you that none of the engineers for the participating three Space Agencies thought to examine this contingency, and that they have no schematics that/ which state the case for the pros and cons for the refueling of the JWST’s/ Webb’s thrusters? I would find that hard to believe!

    Editor!… we need independent scientific verification of our ability to refuel the JWST’s thrusters!… and, in addition, to establishing whether schematics exist in this regard! Not having schematics would be troubling!… and not having an engineering solution would be curious! And as I’ve pointed out, getting such a solution to the JWST/ Webb isn’t a problem… and within the time-frame deemed vital for the successful continuation of the JWST’s mission!

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