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The entire sun shield revealed by the James Webb Space Telescope

The entire sun shield revealed by the James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched on Christmas, has revealed the entire giant sun shield at an important and complex stage. “All five layers of the solar shield are fully elongated,” a NASA employee said Tuesday at the control center in the US city of Baltimore, as her colleagues burst into jubilation. The shield’s deployment began on Monday.

A sun shield, shaped like a sail and the size of a tennis court, protects the telescope and its sensitive instruments from heat and light. Its thin film is made of Kapton, a material known for its resistance to heat and cold.

full of dangers

Because the telescope was too large for an Ariane 5 rocket, it had to be folded up before launch. Detection in space was a complex and risky process that caused a lot of concern to NASA officials. “When he asked me what keeps me awake at night, it’s to deploy the sunscreen,” project manager Bill Ochs said before the mission.

An Ariane 5 successor rocket carried the legendary Hubble telescope into space on Christmas Day from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. The James Webb Telescope is set to explore the early days of the universe 13 billion years ago, and thus a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. Astronomers hope to draw conclusions about the formation of the first stars and galaxies.

The telescope, named after a former US space agency administrator, was jointly developed by NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and the University of Cologne also participated in the conference. The Vienna space company RUAG Space also worked on one of the telescope’s three main instruments. Two high-resolution “eye-super-eye” instruments called “NIRSpec” (Near Infrared Spectrometers) were delivered.

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Up to 100 celestial bodies

This can capture up to 100 celestial bodies such as galaxies or stars at the same time. The machine has a mass of about 200 kilograms and will operate in space at a temperature of minus 238 degrees Celsius. VIENNA supplied the devices that allow the precise installation and rotation of the filter wheel and the mesh wheel of the “eye”.

While the telescope was completed on Earth, red, white, and red technology was also used: the space observatory’s pan and tilt device also comes from RUAG Space. The company also provided thermal insulation for the telescope’s large communications antenna.

The space telescope project, launched in 1989, was originally scheduled to begin in the early 2000s. However, new problems delayed the project for years, and costs tripled to nearly ten billion dollars (8.8 billion euros). Also, the start had to be postponed several times.