James Webb’s great achievement: The telescope’s five-layer solar shield was fully opened

The five-layer James Webb Space Telescope, a vital piece that will keep the observatory’s equipment cool during the mission, has been successfully unveiled. With the installation of the solar shield, probably the most complex part of launching the telescope is now over.

According to Varge, Bill Oaks“This is a really big moment,” James Webb, project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told the mission team after completing the solar shield deployment. I want to congratulate the whole team. We still have a lot of work to do; “But pulling out the sun shield and deploying it is a really big achievement.”

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the powerful new space observatory, was launched from French Guiana on January 4 after nearly 25 years of construction. James Webb, often credited as the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, will have far more power to observe distant, bright objects in the universe. Astronomers hope to use the James Webb to look back and see some of the first stars and galaxies to form just millions of years after the Big Bang.

But in order to observe the early universe, James Webb first had to go through a complex process of opening up in space. The telescope was too large to go into space in its final configuration; As a result, the mission planners folded the telescope. The process of opening and operating the James Webb depends on hundreds of mechanisms and moving parts, and for the telescope to work properly, everything must go well. Along the way, there are 344 single break points; The startups have no support and should work as expected; Otherwise, the whole mission will be jeopardized.

Part of the opening process involved the installation of the James Webb solar shield. NASA’s new space telescope monitors infrared radiation; A kind of invisible light that we feel as heat on the ground. For this reason, the telescope must be at a super-cold temperature of approximately minus 223 degrees Celsius for proper operation. The solar shield, which is made of five thin reflective layers, is responsible for preventing the telescope from overheating due to sunlight.

The installation of the solar shield was a very complex event. Shield layers are very thin shells that must remain intact as they are stretched and separated. 107 release mechanisms were used to open the layers, and in order for the solar shield to fully open, each mechanism had to work as planned. As soon as the layers are opened, the spacecraft must pull them as tightly as the sails of a boat.

The installation of the solar shield took a little over a week and a little longer than initially expected. According to NASA planning, this process should take about 6 days; But during the New Year weekend, the James Webb team stopped opening the bumper to rest for a while and review the data received from the spacecraft. Also, along the way, due to some unexpected temperature readings and equipment problems, several problems arose that had to be fixed before the solar shield could be opened. “Orbital satellites will always be in a different orbit from Earth,” Oaks told a news conference before the deployment ended.

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The first problem was a small problem with James Webb solar panels. Factory presets in the factory limited their output power; But Northrop Grumman rearranged the panels based on the temperature they experienced in space. With this correction, apparently the problem was solved and James Webb is now getting enough power to function properly.

Another problem was the motors used to release the solar shield and help pull the layers. They were a little hotter than James Webb’s team expected; As a result, the engineers changed the mission of the observatory slightly to reduce the light emitted to them. This change of direction helped cool the engines before use.

Now that the James Webb solar shield has been unveiled, one of the most terrifying moments of the telescope launch has passed. NASA says between 70 and 75 percent of individual failure points have been formally completed. At a news conference, Oaks called this important step in the week and a half since the spacecraft began operating a major achievement.

However, the telescope still has some important achievements to make. Most importantly, James Webb must open the main mirror of his fragment, which is the main tool for collecting light from distant galaxies and stars. This crucial event, which is set to take place in about a week, like all other episodes, must be performed flawlessly so that James Webb can finally begin to observe the world.

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