For achieving groundbreaking milestones, the JWS Telescope, launched by NASA has to first perform a series of highly choreographed movements, extensions, and deployments, which would start the observatory’s functions a short period after its launch. Since the JWS was too large to fit on top of any available rockets, it was specifically engineered to fold back on itself, which would help it achieve a smaller size, helping ease transportation difficulties.
Engineers and technicians had recently run tests on this choreography. They successfully commanded the JWS to initiate deployment of support structures that hold its secondary mirrors in the proper place. This happens to be a vital milestone in the observatory’s preparation for its outward journey into space. This choreographed movement will be next deployed only in space, as it prepared to image the cosmos that is around at a distance of million miles.
This secondary mirror happens to be among the most vital pieces of the telescope’s equipment, crucial for the mission’s success. When it is deployed, the mirror shall stand out from the JWS’ primary hexagonal mirrors that will form a shape resembling a honeycomb. This circular, small mirror is responsible for collecting the light obtained from JWS’ eighteen primary mirrors and transform them into focused beams. This beam is sent down tertiary & steering mirrors, which finally make their way to Webb’s 4 scientific instruments. Lee Feinberg, who works for NASA’s GSCFC in Maryland as an OTE manager on the JWS team stated that this deployment movement marked another step towards the observatory’s finish line.
There still remain many preparations for the JWS’ two halves to be fully assembled but the telescope’s secondary mirror testing phase’s success marks the accomplishment of the last big milestone before JWS is integrated into its ultimate form, enabling it to function as an observatory. The operation also demonstrated that electronic connections between the telescope and the spacecraft were working properly, capable of properly delivering commands across the observatory, just as designed. The JWS is a joint international project, handled by NASA, ESA, and CSA.