The telescope will operate 1 million miles away from Earth.
After two weeks in its spaceflight, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has taken off and will fly to the farthest reaches of unknown space.
The crews completed the final part of the satellite’s long-awaited deployment and opened both its mirrored wings, which are crucial to the telescope’s mission.
Scientists say this step is the most likely point to a mission failure, and NASA crews were seen cheering in relief after the operation was completed.
The telescope has been in service since 1996 and is a joint venture between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
The satellite, launched on Christmas Day, will succeed the Hubble Space Telescope and operate much farther than any other telescope, about 1 million miles from Earth.
The Webb telescope will use mirrors to conduct infrared astronomy and “observe alien planets within the habitable zones of their stars, regions where a could contain liquid water on its surface and could determine if there may be signs of habitability.” to NASA.
Because the telescope’s instruments need to operate in extremely cold temperatures: engineers designed a sunshade to protect the instrument from the sun’s heat.
The Webb telescope has a long journey ahead of it. Over the next few weeks, it will align and calibrate its mirrors so that they act as a uniform object to reflect light.
It will then proceed to its destination, “Lagrange point 2.”
The first images from the telescope are expected in the spring.
https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/webb-telescope-spreads-wings-completes-final-deployment-measures/story?id=82151712 Webb Telescope Spreads Wings, Finalizes Deployment Measures