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NASA begins the process of focusing on the new space telescope

NASA embarked on a month-long painstaking process of focusing on the newly launched James Webb Space Telescope on Wednesday. This is a task that will be completed in time for the revolutionary eyes of the sky to begin looking into space by early summer.

A mission control engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, began by sending the first command to a small motor called an actuator that slowly positions and fine-tunes the telescope’s primary mirror.

Consisting of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-plated beryllium metal, the primary mirror is 21 feet 4 inches (6.5 m) in diameter and is a much larger collection than the Hubble Space Telescope, the predecessor of Webb, 30 years ago. It is a light surface.

The 18 segments, folded together to fit inside the cargo compartment of a rocket carrying the telescope into space, were unfolded with the remaining structural components during the two weeks following the launch of the Web on December 25.

These segments must be removed from the fasteners that were held in place for launch and then moved 0.5 inches forward from the original configuration (10-day process). Then align them to form a single, uninterrupted condensing surface. ..

The adjustment will take another three months, Lee Feinberg, Goddard’s Webb optical telescope element manager, told Reuters on the phone.

Aligning the primary mirror segments to form one large mirror means that each segment is “aligned to one-fifth the thickness of human hair.”

“All this required us to invent something that had never been done before,” he added.

The smaller secondary mirrors of telescopes designed to direct the light collected from the primary lens to Web cameras and other equipment also need to be tuned to work as part of a cohesive optical system.

If everything goes according to plan, the telescope should be ready to capture the first scientific image in May. This will take about a month to be processed before it is released to the public.

Described by NASA as the best space science observatory for the next decade, the $ 9 billion telescope will be able to observe the universe primarily in the infrared spectrum and see the gas and dust clouds where the stars are born. increase. Hubble worked primarily at wavelengths of light and ultraviolet light.

Webb is about 100 times more powerful than Hubble and can observe objects at much greater distances than Hubble and other telescopes.

Astronomers say this gives them a glimpse into a universe that they have never seen before. It is the theoretical flash point that began the observable expansion of the universe just 100 million years after the Big Bang, estimated 13.8 billion years ago.

The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in collaboration with space agencies in Europe and Canada. Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) was the prime contractor.

https://www.kuwaittimes.com/nasa-begins-process-of-bringing-new-space-telescope-into-focus/ NASA begins the process of focusing on the new space telescope

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