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James Webb Space Telescope: mirror deployment process complete

The largest and most powerful space telescope has successfully deployed its golden mirrors and testing of individual mirror segments is now complete.

Erin Wolf, Webb program manager at Ball Aerospace, explained how the mirrors were moved and tested. “The motors have completed over a million revolutions this week…The mirror deployment team gradually moved the 132 actuators located aft of the primary mirror segments and the secondary mirror…Using six motors that deploy each segment about half the length of a paperclip, these actuators release the mirrors from their launch retainers and give each segment enough room to then adjust in other directions,” said said Wolf.

He added that the telescope alignment process will take about three months.

On January 24, the team is expected to fire Webb’s thrusters to insert the telescope into its orbit around the Sun. The telescope will be almost a million kilometers from Earth.

Webb scientists and engineers will also answer questions about the latest milestones at 3:00 p.m. EST Monday (1:30 a.m. IST Tuesday). It will be streamed live on the NASA Science Live website, NASA YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter pages.