The mirror with which the machine is equipped had to be folded to enter the rocket which sent it into space on December 25.
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The operation was delicate and essential to the functioning of the James Webb telescope. The unfolding of its large mirror was successfully completed, NASA announced on Saturday, January 8. The machine is now fully deployed, two weeks after its launch.
Two weeks after launch, @NASAWebb has hit its next biggest milestone: the mirrors have completed deployment and the next-generation telescope has taken its final form.
Next up for Webb? Five months of alignment and calibration before we start getting images: pic.twitter.com/BOj5O1HS37
– NASA (@NASA) January 8, 2022
The telescope’s main mirror measures around 6.5m in diameter and was therefore too large to fit into a rocket as it took off. Its two sides had thus been folded up. The first of these two wings was deployed on Friday and the second was opened on Saturday morning. Deploying such a telescope in space was an ultra-perilous procedure that had never been attempted in the past.
However, teams from the US space agency continue to lock it in place, in order to secure it permanently. The most sophisticated space telescope ever created now enters a phase “alignment and calibration” which should last five months, before the first shots, explains NASA. It has not yet reached its final orbit, located 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.