JWST | Alignment Complete

Webb’s mirrors now direct fully focused light from space down into each instrument. This alignment allows each instrument is capture images. For the next two months, work will be done to commission each of the four scientific instruments. Performance appears better than the engineering team’s most optimistic predictions.

The NASA blog posted 28 April 2022 by Thaddeus Cesari describes the significance of this milestone in greater detail. Images in the post can be enlarged to show the great detail achieved by each instrument as well as the Fine Guidance Sensor. They are impressive. In addition, this one minute video from the blog summarizes the accomplishments.

JWST | Sunshield Measurements

Smarter Every Day author Destin interviewed his dad in 2016 who was working on the sunshield layers that were eventually placed on the James Webb Space Telescope. His dad worked as a metrologist who specialized in using sophisticated tools to accurately measure dimensions of products. In this video, several people explain the complex procedures used to measure the sunshield layers and how the data was fit to models and applied to the L2 point in space. It is a fascinating look behind the scenes at an essential part of the JWST. There is one ad break at the 15 minute time.

JWST | Alignment Progress

The JWST team successfully completed the third phase of mirror alignment by tilting each of the 18 segments to produce one image. This set of stacked images will further be refined by adjusting the heights of the segments to within one wavelength of light. This step is called Coarse Phasing. Details of the recently completed processes are here in their blog.

JWST Mirrors

The 18 mirror segments of the James Webb Space Telescope are currently being slowly moved from their safely stowed positions at launch to their fully deployed positions. They move about a millimeter per day. You can watch the progress here.

If you are interested in delving into the history and development of these mirrors, NASA has a lengthy and very complete web site explaining with text, diagrams, and short videos. I found it well-worth reading. Follow this link.

Photo: NASA/Chris Gunn