Commissioning stages of James Webb Space Telescope Just another stage.
Engineers have successfully aligned all instruments on the $10 billion space telescope, except for one, for the first time, NASA mentioned Friday (April 1) as Webb continues to cool to deep space temperatures after its December 25, 2021 launch.
The temporary instrument modification was so successful that the engineers decided they didn’t need to realign Webb’s secondary mirror, which was an option if they decided anything was out of line. The final stage of the “multiple instrument alignment,” as NASA describes the process, will occur after the final telescope instrument has cooled. The agency stated that the cooling phase should occur in the “coming weeks”.
Webb goes through a multiple phase of six months commissioning period to precisely align its mirrors and instruments to capture the faint light from the universe. Lower temperatures complicate the process somewhat as these components may behave or align differently once they reach deep space temperatures, which is why NASA has room for further modifications.
But in the meantime, the engineers celebrated by not having to perform mirror rearrangements during the now-completed sixth phase of Webb’s commissioning.
“This achievement was due to many years of planning and fantastic teamwork among the wavefront sensing team,” said Chanda Walker, a Web Wavefront Sensing and Control Scientist at Ball Aerospace, in a NASA statement. (Ball provided Webb’s optical mirror system.)
Engineers await the deceleration of the telescope’s medium-infrared instrument (MIRI), which requires ultra-cold or very cold temperatures to capture. Infrared heat signatures For distant objects, whether exoplanets or galaxies at birth.
“Once MIRI has cooled completely to cryogenic operating temperature in the coming weeks, a second multi-instrument alignment will occur to make final adjustments to the instruments and mirrors if needed,” NASA said.
Once the telescope can successfully focus its light at each instrument, NASA added, the agency plans to hold a “major decision meeting” to confirm that the alignment process is complete.
“The team will then move from harmonization efforts to commissioning each instrument for scientific operations,” the agency continued. program early science (Cycle 1) is expected to begin around June, and Operational Science “Cycle 2” is expected to begin in mid-2023.