Today I’m happy to share an update on our blog about the James Webb Space Telescope. Six months ago, leading up to the launch, we wondered whether the amazing feat of engineering would be successful.
To be successful, the telescope launched into space folded up. Then, it had to slowly unfold and align to incredibly fine specifications!
James Webb telescope launched about a million miles into space in December of this year, 2021.
So much could have gone wrong!
And, it didn’t!
One of the trickiest aspects of James Webb is the mirror alignment. The collection area for Webb is 6.25 times greater than Hubble’s. This large mirror is key to “seeing back into time” to capture light from distant parts of the universe.
These mirrors are essential for the major benefit of Webb over Hubble: Seeing more stars, more distant objects, more solar systems.
Three weeks ago alignment was confirmed, though adjustments continue.
In fact, you can watch NASA representatives explain how mirror alignment works in this video.
“Having completed the self-assembly of its 18-segmented main mirror, the telescope has now taken exceptional images of an unexceptional star as a test of its capabilities. The star, known as HD84406, is 100 times fainter than what can be seen with the human eye. The star itself is of little interest, lovely though its image is – instead, astronomers are captivated by the spray of tiny dots scattered across the background. Each is a distant galaxy, and this is the first time we’ve ever been able to capture them.”
Have an existing success story to share? We want to hear it!
Image credit: NASA