James Webb Telescope Ready to Reveal the Secrets of the Universe


NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has opened its main mirror. Now the $10 billion telescope is ready to reveal the secrets of the universe.

The opening of the main mirror of the JWST telescope is the final maneuver of the deployment process that began since its launch on Christmas two weeks ago. All these processes must run perfectly for JWST to function normally.

The telescope has two main mirror panels on either side that will be used to collect infrared from the distant universe. Each of these panels has three hexagon-shaped mirrors covered in gold.

On Saturday (8/1), the mirror panel on the right side was opened, just a day after the panel on the left side was deployed. Once both sides of the panel are exposed, the 18 mirrors that complement the JWST are now in place.

"I just feel this kind of glow in my chest right now just by seeing the mirrors open together," NASA scientist Michelle Thaller said in a livestream, as quoted by The Guardian, Sunday (9/1/2022).

JWST is referred to as a time machine by scientists. Imagine, this telescope will help astronomers to study the birth of the universe 13.8 billion ago after the Big Bang, and look for signs of life in the Milky Way galaxy.

The mirrors used by JWST to collect data were too large to fit into the rocket, so scientists had to design their components to be collapsible, something that had never been done before.

The James Webb Telescope is the largest and most complex telescope ever launched. The telescope is now 965,000 km from Earth, but still has to fly 643,000 km to its final destination.

Having achieved its goal in about two weeks, JWST still has five months to go through the instrument calibration process. The telescope is likely to send out its first photos next summer.

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