On December 25, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope blasted off into space.
The plan called for six months of deployment, cooling, and calibration.
Then science operations would begin, giving an expected lifespan of 5–10 years.
However, on April 28, 2022, the alignment of each instrument was completed, with an expected lifespan of approximately 20 years.
The telescope and the team performed dazzlingly, exceeding expectations overall.
First: the fuel preserved from the virgin launch on the course intended for course correction.
JWST reached its destination, the Lagrange point L2, earlier than expected.
Every component deployed correctly and cooled as expected.
At the beginning of February, the Alignment/commissioning in 7 steps process started.
First, the images produced by each mirror segment were identified.
Second, the images were aligned, then third, they were stacked.
Fourth, the coarse phasing synthesized 18 small telescopes into one big one.
Fifth, NIRCam fine phasing occurred, creating the first fully focused image.
JWST unique set of spikes arises from the optical design of the telescope.
Sixth, alignment coverage has expanded to JWST’s instrument suite and full field of view.
Seventh, final iterative fixes completed the alignment.
Now NIR Cam,
fine guide sensor,
and MIRI instruments are all lined up.
Alone instrument commissioning and final calibrations to stay.
With fuel savings and quick alignment, ~More than 20 years of scientific operations will start soon.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in pictures, visuals and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.