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Deploying the heat shield of the James Webb Telescope

Deploying the heat shield of the James Webb Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope has taken an important step on the path to mission success by fully deploying its heat shield, a key component of his future cosmic explorations.

The telescope consists of 5 layers, each layer the size of a tennis court, whose mission is to protect scientific instruments from the intense heat of the sun. It was carefully stretched before being fully stretched.

Because of its huge size, which prevents it from being placed inside a rocket, the telescope folds itself into an origami-like art and must be deployed in space, in an ultra-accurate mission.

The telescope was launched more than a week ago from French Guiana, and is currently more than 900,000 kilometers from Earth. It is still on its way to reaching its final orbit at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, four times the distance between our planet and the Moon.

sigh of relief

The heat shield has an area of ​​20 meters by 14 diamonds. Its layers, about a hair’s thick, were folded into an accordion shape.

It is made of kapton material that was chosen due to its resistance to extreme temperatures. The side closest to the sun can withstand 125 degrees Celsius; And that farthest from them is 235 degrees below zero.

The heat shield is vital because James Webb’s science instruments can only operate at very low temperatures and in the dark. The new thing that this telescope brings is that it will only work with near and medium infrared rays, which are waves that are not visible to the naked eye.

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The next stage will be the deployment of mirrors, starting with a smaller secondary mirror mounted on a tripod.

This is followed by the installation of the main mirror covered with gold, about 6.6 meters in diameter, the sides of which will be opened one by one.

Once all of James Webb’s settings are complete, the telescope will head to Lagrange 2. The equipment must then be cooled, calibrated, and mirrors adjusted more precisely.

Six months after its launch, the telescope will be ready to reach the early universe as well as search for habitable environments outside the solar system.