NASA delays tightening James Webb Space Telescope sunshield to study power system


NASA personnel are spending the day finding out the power subsystem of the large James Webb Space Telescope to make sure the observatory is prepared to execute a key process: tensioning its huge sunshield.

The Webb area telescope, which launched on Dec. 25, is conducting a month-long deployment process essential to put together the telescope to collect knowledge. But most steps in that process are managed from the bottom: While NASA has a tentative schedule for the work, mission leaders can resolve to modify the timeline alongside the way in which. So after taking Saturday (Jan. 1) as a relaxation day, the Webb group is spending Sunday (Jan. 2) finding out the observatory’s power subsystem, NASA introduced.

“Nothing we can learn from simulations on the ground is as good as analyzing the observatory when it’s up and running,” Bill Ochs, Webb challenge supervisor at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Maryland, stated in an agency statement launched Sunday (Jan. 2). “Now is the time to take the opportunity to learn everything we can about its baseline operations. Then we will take the next steps.”

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In explicit, the group is concentrated on the temperature of a set of motors that will probably be used throughout sunshield tensioning, the method that separates and smooths the 5 delicate layers of the kite-shaped solar deflector. (Webb makes a speciality of infrared observations, that are delicate to warmth, making the sunshield a significant part of the observatory.)

“We’ve spent 20 years on the ground with Webb, designing, developing, and testing,”  Mike Menzel, Webb’s lead methods engineer at GSFC stated in the identical assertion. “We’ve had a week to see how the observatory actually behaves in space. It’s not uncommon to learn certain characteristics of your spacecraft once you’re in flight. That’s what we’re doing right now. So far, the major deployments we’ve executed have gone about as smoothly as we could have hoped for. But we want to take our time and understand everything we can about the observatory before moving forward.”

Tensioning the sunshield is a fancy course of that NASA expects to take two days. NASA initially meant to begin the work on Saturday, however Friday’s operations ran later than expected and the group determined to take New Year’s Day to relaxation.

And when mission managers determined to take a better have a look at the motor temperatures, they did not need the group to be engaged on two elements of the observatory without delay.

After the sunshield is absolutely tensioned, the group will transfer on to deploying the secondary mirror.

Although deployment has paused, the observatory remains to be making progress. As of simply earlier than 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT), Webb was greater than 510,000 miles (825,000 kilometers) away from Earth, or 57% of the way in which to its remaining vacation spot of the Earth-sun Lagrange level 2. That level, often known as L2, is situated practically 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth within the course reverse the solar.

Email Meghan Bartels at or comply with her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

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