A decisive step has been taken in preparation for the commissioning of the James Webb space telescope: according to the US space agency, NASA, the telescope’s sunscreen, about the size of a tennis court, was left wide open.
Deployment completes one of the most complicated procedures for telescope setup. It is an “incredible milestone,” extremely important to the success of the mission, said James Webb program director Gregory Robinson at NASA Headquarters in Washington. He considered it to be a “technological marvel.”
The telescope, jointly built by space agencies in Europe, the United States, and Canada, aims to explore the oldest galaxies in space.
Five Layer Solar Shield
During the eight-day deployment of the protective shield, thousands of pieces had to work together with precision, Robinson said. According to NASA, the protection device will protect the telescope from the light and heat of the Sun, Earth and Moon, and will allow it to work in temperatures of minus 229 degrees.
The shield consists of five layers. Each of the sheets is as thin as a human hair and is coated with reflective metal.
The telescope was launched on December 25 from the European space station Kourou, in French Guiana. The telescope is expected to fly 1.5 million kilometers in space. Scientists hope that, among other things, their images will provide information about the time after the Big Bang, about 13.8 billion years ago.
The first data and images from the telescope are not expected until next summer, at the earliest.
With information from DW.
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