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NASA has successfully tested and deployed its Gigantic James Webb Space Telescope Mirror

03/04/2020
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Despite facing the worry of shutdowns and major changes last month, due to the coronavirus pandemic, NASA successfully tested and deployed the giant golden mirror of the telescope. Hitting another major milestone on its journey in Space.

NASA has successfully tested and deployed its Gigantic James Webb Space Telescope Mirror
(Image Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn)

 
In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space. When it launches in 2021, NASA's most powerful and complex space telescope will explore the cosmos using infrared light, from planets and moons within our solar system to the most distant galaxies.

The test, which was performed in early March, involved commanding the spacecraft’s internal systems to fully extend and latch Webb’s iconic primary mirror, appearing just like it would after it has been launched to orbit.

According to NASA, the mirror is the biggest of its kind, which causes a unique problem. The mirror was so large that it couldn't fit inside a rocket. So, they designed the telescope as a series of moving parts that can fold origami-style and fit inside a 16-foot space for launch.

“Deploying both wings of the telescope while part of the fully assembled observatory is another significant milestone showing Webb will deploy properly in space. This is a great achievement and an inspiring image for the entire team,” said Lee Feinberg, optical telescope element manager for Webb at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

James Webb Telescope

(Image Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn)

The test took place in the cleanroom at Northrop Grumman Space Systems in California. The company has a contract with NASA for multiple missions.

During the test, the spacecraft successfully responded to commands to extend the mirror to its complete size.

This was just one of a series that will need to be checked off before the space telescope is shipped to French Guiana, where the 2021 launch will take place.

“The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world’s premier space science observatory” says NASA. “It will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and origins of our universe and our place in it.”

This is promising news for the space agency, especially as it will surely face uncertain days ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic as future testing will likely be constrained.

Want to read more about NASA’S past achievements?
Read our article about the launch of the space shuttle.

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NASA has successfully tested and deployed its Gigantic James Webb Space Telescope Mirror - Time to read 3 min
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