The James Webb Space Telescope has opened its huge and gold-plated mirror on Saturday. This was the last step of the observatory’s dramatic unfurling. The last portion of the 21-foot mirror swung into place at flight controllers‘ command. This is how the telescope has completed its unfolding.
The JWST is more powerful than Hubble Space Telescope. The Webb telescope will scan the cosmos for light from the stars and galaxies formed 13.7 billion years ago. This is why NASA had built the largest and most sensitive mirror ever launched in the Webb telescope. This is called “golden eye” of the telescope.
Webb is too big and this is why it had to be folded in orgami-style to fit in the rocket. The riskiest operation of the telescope was the unfolding of its tennis court-size sunshield. The sunshield will provide sub-zero shade for the mirror and infrared detectors.
Flight controllers in Baltimore started to open the primary mirror of the telescope. The scientists jumped to their feet and cheered when the operation was fully complete.
The mirror is made of beryllium which is a lightweight yet sturdy and cold-resistant metal. All the 18 segments are coated with an ultra-thin layer of gold. These are highly reflective of infrared light. The segments are hexagonal and must be adjusted in the days and weeks ahead.
Then only they will be able to focus on stars, galaxies and alien worlds that might hold atmospheric signs of life. The telescope will reach its destination 1 million miles in another two weeks. It is now 667,000 miles away from Earth. Its observation will most probably begin in summer. Astronomers will look back within 100 million years of the universe-forming Big Bang.