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Wed Aug 7, 2019, 07:54 AM

Critical deployment of NASA Webb's secondary mirror a success

From https://m.phys.org/news/2019-08-critical-deployment-nasa-webb-secondary.html

Critical deployment of NASA Webb's secondary mirror a success

August 6, 2019 , NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


Following a successful deployment test of NASA Webb's mission-critical secondary mirror, technicians and engineers visually inspect the support structure that holds it in place. Credit: Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

In order to do groundbreaking science, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope must first perform an extremely choreographed series of deployments, extensions, and movements that bring the observatory to life shortly after launch. Too big to fit in any rocket available in its fully deployed form, Webb was engineered to intricately fold in on itself to achieve a much smaller size during transport.

Technicians and engineers recently tested a key part of this choreography by successfully commanding Webb to deploy the support structure that holds its secondary mirror in place. This is a critical milestone in preparing the observatory for its journey to orbit. The next time this will occur will be when Webb is in space, and on its way to gaze into the cosmos from a million miles away.

The secondary mirror is one of the most important pieces of equipment on the telescope, and is essential to the success of the mission. When deployed, this mirror will sit out in front of Webb's hexagonal primary mirrors, which form an iconic honeycomb-like shape. This smaller circular mirror serves an important role in collecting light from Webb's 18 primary mirrors into a focused beam. That beam is then sent down into the tertiary and fine steering mirrors, and finally to Webb's four powerful scientific instruments.

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