Jan 7

Day 13: Mirror, Mirror – First Wing Unfolds

Webb Telescope with the port wing deployed. Credit: NASA

What’s Up with Webb – home

Over the next two days, the last of Webb’s major deployments will take place. These deployments re-assemble Webb’s iconic 18 segment 6.5-meter mirror that was folded up for launch. The mirror’s center section, with 12 hexagonal segments, was fixed in position. But the mirror’s two side wings, each containing 3 additional segments, were folded back to fit into the Ariane 5 rocket. 

Today the port side of Webb’s mirror was successfully unfolded. After a motor moved the wing into position, it took about 2 hours for the wing to securely latch into place.

Tomorrow the other (starboard) wing will go through the same process.

When these steps are complete, Webb’s mirror will almost be ready to start collecting infrared light. But first the team has much work to do to line up all those segments, so they create a single image.  This work will take place after Webb arrives at its destination and starts orbiting around L2 and will take several months.

Learn more about Webb’s next steps in our post here.