Science

The James Webb Space Telescope marks the deployment of all the mirrors

NASA’s new massive observatory has marked another milestone.

After nearly a full month in space, the James Webb Space Telescope, also known as JWST or Webb, is nearing the end of its deployment work. The complicated series of deployments has seen the telescope transform from its tightly folded launch configuration to what looks like a real observatory, though science observations are still months away.

“Fresh from the @NASAWebb team: All 18 primary mirror segments and secondary mirror are now fully deployed!” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson wrote in a tweet posted on Wednesday (Jan 19). “Congratulations to the teams who have been working tirelessly since launch to get to this point. Soon, Webb will arrive in his new home, L2!”

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JWST’s gold primary mirror includes 18 individual hexagonal segments, each controlled by seven actuators that allow precise movements. All 18 segments are now in their deployed positions several days ahead of schedule.

Work began on the mirror segments on January 12 and was expected to take around 10 days. But despite today’s announcement, those mirror segments aren’t ready for viewing just yet. First, NASA must go through the painstaking process of adjusting the position of each mirror to turn 18 individual views of the universe into one large, ultra-powerful mirror.

The team behind Webb expects the entire mirror process to take about three months, total.

Webb has one more key deployment milestone to complete, a trajectory that will put the observatory into orbit around a point in space called the Earth-Sun Lagrange point 2, or L2. L2 is nearly 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from Earth, on the side of the planet opposite the sun.

According to a NASA schedule, JWST is expected to complete this final arrival maneuver on Sunday (Jan 23).

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@ or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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