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James Webb Telescope: All 5 Sunscreen Layers Separated and Fully Stretched

The telescope's diamond-shaped sunscreen measures 14.33x21.34 meters.

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On the evening of January 4, ground flight control team James Webb completed the process of opening and pulling on all five layers of the telescope's solar shield. This important part of the scientific space device has fully worked out all the stages of unfolding its elements in the normal mode.

This operation took place under the motto "Shields up!" NASA explained that after completing the deployment and tensioning of all five layers of the sunscreen, about 75% of the calculated 344 single-point failure elements have been worked out, their milestones have been passed, they will no longer affect the progress of the mission.

To unfold and tension the sunscreen, 139 of the telescope's 178 dedicated on-board triggers, 70 hinged fasteners, 8 deployment and tension motors, approximately 400 pulleys and 90 individual cables with a total length of approximately 400 meters were used.

This structure is a protection system that will keep the telescope and Webb's unique scientific instruments very cold.

The purpose of the sun shield is to protect the telescope from radiation and cool it down to 110 ° C on the sun-facing side and –235 ° C on the dark side. "James Webb" requires low temperatures so that its optics can capture the reflections of distant galaxies and other space objects in the infrared range.

The telescope mission team from Earth individually pulled each of the five layers of the telescope's sunscreen, giving them the final diamond shape. Also, four layers were raised one above the other in succession to create space between these shield elements, allowing heat to radiate, making each subsequent layer of the sun shield cooler than the one below.

NASA showed live the process of stretching the 4th and 5th layers of the telescope shield

Album of photographs of the creation and testing of the James Webb telescope sunscreen.

Album of photographs of preparation, test unfolding and folding of the James Webb telescope sunscreen before flight.

The next steps in deploying the telescope elements will take place some time after checking the telescope's condition. The ground crew will first deploy the secondary mirror, then the primary mirror and its segments.

On December 25, the James Webb Space Telescope was launched into space on the Ariane 5 rocket.

After entering space, the telescope successfully completed the procedure for deploying solar panels, and also made the first course correction towards its destination - the L2 Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system.

On December 28, the James Webb Telescope completed the process of deploying the rectangular sunscreen pallets and began following the steps to deploy the sunscreen.

On December 29, NASA made available to all the current average readings from 4 temperature sensors on the hot and cold sides of the James Webb telescope. NASA also said that the tower was lifted over the shield, and according to a new estimate of scientists and engineers, the telescope will have enough fuel for more than 10 years of operation, since it has been significantly saved during maneuvers in space.

On December 31, 2021, NASA reported that the first and second telescopic booms for deploying the sunscreen had extended normally and locked in their final position.

On December 3, ground flight control team James Webb completed the complex process of final tensioning of the first layer of the telescope's solar shield, and successfully performed similar actions with the second and third layers, including their separation.

The flight parameters of the James Webb telescope can be monitored on this page of the NASA website. At present, the telescope has already moved away from the Earth at a distance of more than 914 thousand km, has flown 63% of the calculated trajectory, and its current cruising speed is about 0.5 km / s.

James Webb Telescope: All 5 Sunscreen Layers Separated and Fully Stretched