Hot Topics in Space Science – The James Webb Space Telescope has been arranged quite smoothly. NASA announced on April 1 that the telescope has completed the sixth stage of the 7 major configuration process ahead of schedule. Among them, 3 of the 4 scientific instruments have been calibrated, and the rest of the mid-infrared Imaging-Spectroradiometer (MIRI) calibration work prepares the universe for observation.
The Webb Space Telescope adopts an avant-garde design. The huge main mirror is cut into 18 separate mirrors in order to be stuffed into the rocket payload bay. For this reason, the Webb Space Telescope launches into space and unfolds a series of 7 large mirrors that last longer than previous space telescopes. Configuration process, these steps are:
- Segment Image Identification
- Segment Alignment
- Image Stacking
- Coarse Phasing
- Fine Phasing
- Multi-instrument field of view alignment
- Iterative calibration for final correction
After completing the precise phase adjustment, the telescope NIRCam instrument was aimed at the star 2MASS J17554042+6551277 (also known as TYC 4212-1079-1), which is about 2,000 light-years away from us and 16 times brighter than the sun. The most intense infrared image of a star.
After that, the telescope further completed the calibration of the remaining three scientific instruments, and on April 1, NASA announced that the sixth stage of the configuration process had been completed ahead of schedule. The near-infrared camera (NIRCam) is already aligned with the mirrors of the telescope, and since the previous calibration was so precise, no additional secondary mirror adjustments were required before the seventh and final stages.
All scientific instruments are left with the Mid-Infrared Imaging-Spectrometer (MIRI) waiting to complete the calibration. The NASA team is waiting for it to cool down to a working temperature of minus 266°C, which is expected to take several weeks. The telescope will then enter the seventh stage of the configuration process, the final milestone before the Webb telescope is fully operational.
Astronomers are waiting for the Webb telescope to unlock the secrets of dark matter, analyze exoplanet atmospheres for signs of life, and try to find the universe’s first stars.