UPDATED 12:26 PM PT – Monday, January 10, 2022
NASA successfully deployed their highly anticipated James Webb telescope. Scientists and engineers breathed out a sigh of relief as the 21-foot telescope completed unfolding its mirrors.
“Yes, there was a huge sigh of relief,” stated Bill Ochs, Webb Project Manager. “I think you could see it if you watched the video of us being in there today when that final mirror got latched and the folks in the back room were doing the wave. We’re all giving each other high fives. That’s all of a sign of relief.”
Scientists designed the telescope with a full-sized mirror to collect light from distant parts of the universe, vastly increasing the distance it can observe objects from. The mirror was to large to fit in a rocket, so scientists designed it with the ability to fold allowing it to be launched.
“Oh, the horizon is the limit,” said Bill Nelson, Administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. “We’re going to have all kind of new knowledge about who we are, what we are, where we came from. Are there others out there? Is it any wonder why it’s such a privilege to be involved in NASA?”
Despite its successful deployment, the telescope will still have to calibrate its instruments before it can begin gathering information later this year. Scientists don’t plan to release any images until they can begin normal science operations.
“We want to make sure that the first images that the world sees, that humanity sees from this telescope, do justice to this $10 billion telescope and are not those, you know, ‘hey, look a star,'” explained Jane Rigby, Webb Project Scientist. “So we are planning a series of wow images to be released at the end of commissioning when we start normal science operations that are designed to showcase what this telescope can do.”
— NASA (@NASA) January 8, 2022
In the meantime, the telescope will take about two more weeks before it reaches it’s final destination in deep space. It will then take until this upcoming summer for NASA scientists to receive the first few images from the telescope.