Because of its picture-perfect launch, Webb used less fuel than anticipated for its mid-course correction burns. Less fuel burned now means more fuel later to keep Webb in its orbit around L2. NASA announced today that there is enough fuel for the full 10-year science mission, and perhaps even more. Thanks to the ESA Arianespace team for more science from Webb!
The accurate launch also allowed Webb’s solar array to deploy early, which gave it extra time to convert sunlight to power. Another bonus for Webb!
Today’s Webb deployment activity involves the main tower (Deployable Tower Assembly, or DTA) that holds Webb’s 18 hexagonal mirrors and science instruments. The tower needs to be lifted up, or extended, to make room for the sunshield below. The extension of the DTA also creates more space between Webb’s mirror and the sunshield for better cooling conditions. The process of extension started at 9:00 am EST and will take 6 or more hours. We are waiting to hear if the team successfully completed this activity.
UPDATE: The Webb team successfully extended the observatory’s Deployable Tower Assembly (DTA), creating needed space between the two halves of the spacecraft. Kudos to the Webb team!