Sunshield Successfully Deploys on NASA’s Next Flagship Telescope – India Education | Latest Education News | Global education news

The James Webb Space Telescope team fully deployed the spacecraft’s 70-foot sunshade, a key step in its preparation for science operations.

The sun visor – about the size of a full-size tennis court – was bent to fit inside the front cone payload area of ​​an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket before launch. The Webb team began remotely deploying the sunshade on December 28, 2021, three days after launch.

NASA will hold a media teleconference at 12:45 p.m. EST today, Tuesday, January 4, to discuss the completion of this critical milestone. To participate by phone, media should confirm their attendance with Laura Betz at: [email protected] The audio of the conference call will also be shown on the agency’s website.

“This is the first time that someone has attempted to place such a large telescope in space,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Directorate of Science Missions at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Webb required not only careful assembly, but also painstaking deployments. The success of its most difficult deployment – the Sunshade – is an incredible testament to the human ingenuity and engineering skills that will enable Webb to achieve its scientific goals. “

The five-layer lens hood will protect the telescope from light and heat from the Sun, Earth, and Moon. Each sheet of plastic is about as thin as a human hair and covered in reflective metal, providing protection in the range of over a million FPS. Together, the five layers reduce sun exposure from over 200 kilowatts of solar power to a fraction of a watt.

This protection is crucial to keeping Webb’s scientific instruments at temperatures of 40 Kelvin, or less than 380 degrees Fahrenheit – cool enough to see the faint infrared light Webb seeks to observe.

“Deploying Webb’s sun visor in space is an incredible step, critical to the success of the mission,” said Gregory L. Robinson, Webb’s program director at NASA Headquarters. “Thousands of parts had to be worked with precision for this engineering marvel to unfold to its full potential. The team accomplished a daring feat with the complexity of this deployment – one of the most daring endeavors to date for Webb. “

The process took place in the following order, in eight days:

  • Two pallet structures – front and rear – unfolded to bring the observatory to its full length of 70 feet
  • The deployable tower assembly has deployed to separate the telescope and instruments from the sun visor and the spacecraft main body, allowing the sun visor to fully deploy
  • Rear swing flap and membrane covers have been released and deployed
  • Intermediate arms deployed, extending perpendicular to the pallet structures and allowing the sunshade to extend to its full width of 47 feet
  • Finally, around 11:59 a.m. EST Tuesday, the sunshade was fully extended and secured in position, marking the end of the sunshade deployment.

Deployment and tensioning of the sunshade involved 139 of Webb’s 178 trigger mechanisms, 70 hinge assemblies, eight deployment motors, about 400 pulleys, and 90 individual cables totaling about a quarter mile in length. The team also suspended deployment operations for a day to work on optimizing Webb’s power systems and voltage motors, to ensure Webb was in tip top shape before starting major work on Webb. sun visor tension.

“The lens hood is remarkable because it will protect the telescope on this historic mission,” said Jim Flynn, lens hood manager at Northrop Grumman, NASA’s principal contractor for Webb. “This milestone represents the pioneering spirit of thousands of engineers, scientists and technicians who have spent a significant portion of their careers developing, designing, manufacturing and testing this unique space technology.”

The world’s largest and most complex space science observatory has another 5 and a half months of configuration ahead, including the deployment of the secondary mirror and primary mirror wings, the alignment of the telescope optics and calibration of scientific instruments. After that, Webb will deliver its first images.

Groundbreaking telescope technology will explore every phase of cosmic history – from inside our solar system, to everything in the early universe, to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe. Webb will reveal new and unexpected discoveries and help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it.

The James Webb Space Telescope is an international partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency. NASA Headquarters is overseeing the mission. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages Webb for the agency and oversees work on the mission performed by the Space Telescope Science Institute, Northrop Grumman, and other mission partners. In addition to Goddard, several NASA centers contributed to the project, including the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, and others.

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