What's Up With Webb

By Heidi Hammel and Shari Lifson

In this blog we will keep you informed about Webb’s completed deployment and commissioning steps, current status and upcoming milestones. 

Download this handy “Webb To Do List” (revised January 3) to follow along with the deployment activities and check off each milestone as it is completed.

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Day 30: Last Deployment Box Checked Off!

Final Box Checked!!
Today Webb concluded a month of incredible achievements, and we checked off the last box on our deployment “To Do List.” Webb’s last deployment activity, insertion into L2 orbit, is now complete. Although there are many more achievements to look forward to, let’s take a moment to review what the ...
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Day 25: Slow and Steady Wins in Space

Day 25: Slow and Steady Wins in Space
What do the Webb Space Telescope mirror segments and a tortoise have in common? They both take it slow and steady. In the case of Webb, slow and steady times eighteen ...
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Day 19: Moving Mirrors

Webb's golden mirrors are inspected
Now that the telescope is fully deployed, engineers started to unlock and move the mirror segments this week in preparation for focusing. This is a slow and deliberate process, and the full release of the mirrors will continue over the next 10 days ...
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Day 14: Webb’s Deployment is Complete!!

Celebrations at STScI
From the spectacular Ariane 5 rocket launch on Christmas day to the deployment of the solar panels, sunshield, and secondary and primary mirrors, Webb has gone through a picture-perfect deployment ...
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Day 13: Mirror, Mirror – First Wing Unfolds

Port wing of the Webb Telescope deployed
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 ...
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Day 12: Cool Telescope Gets a Little Cooler

Webb's Aft Deployable Instrument Radiator, or ADIR
Webb’s cameras and spectrographs need to be cold. Really cold. They need to be so cold that engineers created specialized mechanisms to reduce their heat in addition to the shade provided by the large sunshield. One such mechanism is the Aft Deployable Instrument Radiator, or ADIR ...
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Day 11: We have a telescope!

webb secondary mirror fully deployed
Today’s excitement came directly from the NASA livestream of the Mission Operations Center at Space Telescope Science Institute during the deployment of Webb’s secondary mirror. Webb Program Manager Bill Ochs exclaimed, "We have a telescope!" as the latching process was confirmed, and the secondary mirror was fully deployed ...
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Day 10: Sunshield Deployment Complete!

Day 10: Sunshield Deployment Complete!
From an engineering perspective, Webb’s sunshield was one of the most difficult challenges to overcome in building the telescope. Unlike other parts of the telescope, the sunshield layers are very thin and easily damaged. How could the sunshield be safely and efficiently stored, and then deployed without tearing? ...
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Day 9: A Pause, and then Sunshield Tensioning Begins

Webb with a completely deployed sunshield
The year 2021 ended for the Webb Telescope in a nominal way. “Nominal” is spacecraft lingo for “everything is going just as it should” and that’s great! Both sides of the telescope’s sunshield’s booms (arms) were pulled out without any problems ...
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Day 6: Sunshield Booms begin to deploy

Day 6: Sunshield Booms begin to deploy
Today saw the beginning of one of the most difficult Webb deployments so far, the sunshield rollout. The Webb telescope observes in ultraviolet light and needs to be kept very cold in order to collect the faint light from distant galaxies. A key component to keep the telescope cold is ...
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Day 5: Webb’s Aft Momentum Flap and Sunshield Covers Deployed

Day 5: Webb’s Aft Momentum Flap and Sunshield Covers Deployed
The Webb team at the Mission Operations Center (MOC) at Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland started the day with an early morning deployment. The Aft Momentum Flap was successfully lowered into its final position. The deployment was finished at 9:00 am EST ...
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Day 4: Science Operation not limited by fuel; Webb’s Tower Extends

Day 4: Science Operation not limited by fuel; Webb’s Tower Extends
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 ...
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Day 3: Webb Sunshield Starts to Unfold

Day 3: Webb Sunshield Starts to Unfold
Unitized Pallet Structures (UPS) unfold. These two pallets (one forward and the other aft) hold the folded sunshield layers. The forward UPS went first. To prepare for the deployment, the spacecraft was maneuvered to provide warmer temperatures on the forward UPS and various heaters were activated to warm key deployment ...
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Launch to Day 2

Webb launches from the ESA spaceport on The Ariane 5 Rocket
Webb already passed several milestones since its spectacular launch last Saturday. It separated from the Ariane 5 rocket, unfolded its solar panels, and completed two engine burns to adjust its course. It also unfolded its gimbaled antenna for better communications ...
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