The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the world’s most complex space observatory, successfully completed the deployment of its giant golden mirror on Saturday, just fourteen days after launch.
“I am very proud of the team – spanning multiple continents and decades – that achieved this first of its kind,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement.
“Webb’s successful deployment exemplifies the best that NASA has to offer: the willingness to try bold and challenging things in the name of as yet unknown discoveries,” he said.
The James Webb Telescope contains the largest mirror ever built by NASA. Its large size created a unique problem for engineers at the space agency. The mirror was so big he couldn’t fit into a rocket. So the engineers designed the telescope as a series of moving parts that can bend origami-style and fit into a 5-meter space for launch.
“I’m moved by it,” Zurbuchen said of all the telescope’s mirrors finally falling into place. “What an incredible milestone – we see this beautiful pattern out there in the sky now almost complete,” he added.
Designed 25 years ago, the $ 10 billion JWST is named after a former NASA administrator who oversaw the formative years of the Apollo program. Its goal is to scan the atmosphere of distant alien worlds, capture light from some of the earliest galaxies, and reconstruct the evolution of stars in clouds of dust.