NASA’s Webb Area Telescope Prepared for Sunshield Deployment and Cooldown


Credit score: NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Middle Conceptual Picture Lab


With Webb’s first main structural deployments accomplished and the observatory’s Deployable Tower Meeting prolonged, we’re taking a step again to be taught extra about Webb’s sunshield. Observatory Challenge Scientist Michael McElwain, from NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Middle, offered these ideas:

“The Webb telescope and science devices are able to enter the shade, by no means once more to see direct daylight. Certainly one of Webb’s distinctive design options is utilizing passive cooling by a five-layer sunshield to succeed in the telescope’s operational temperatures of 45 Kelvin (-380 levels Fahrenheit). The big sunshield is about 70 by 47 ft (21 by 14 meters) when deployed, or roughly the scale of a tennis court docket. The sunshield geometry and measurement had been decided such that the telescope can level inside a visual view that covers 40% of the sky at any time and might observe wherever within the sky over six months. This revolutionary structure allows Webb’s sensitivity to be restricted by the pure sky background (principally zodiacal gentle) fairly than being compromised by thermal glow of the observatory itself, for all wavelengths shorter than 15 microns, at some point of the mission.

“For launch, the sunshield was folded like a parachute and stowed onto the ahead and aft unitized pallet constructions (UPSs). Each the telescope and sunshield’s help constructions are mechanically related to one another and the spacecraft bus with a view to match throughout the Ariane 5’s fairing and face up to the dynamic launch atmosphere.

Webb Telescope Unfolding Sequence

After launch and through the first month in house, on its solution to the second Langrange level (L2), Webb will bear a fancy unfolding sequence. Credit score: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joyce Kang (STScI)

“There are 50 main deployments that remodel Webb from its stowed, launch configuration into an operational observatory. The sunshield deployment sequence began with the ahead, then aft, UPSs’ mechanical launch from the telescope and motorized decreasing into place. The telescope and science devices, mounted on a deployable tower meeting, had been then mechanically launched and raised. There’s a momentum flap hooked up to the top of the aft UPS that’s launched and positioned, whose operate is to stability the photo voltaic stress on the deployed sunshield. The sunshield covers are launched through retraction of membrane launch gadgets and roll out of the best way, readying the system for the deployment of the sunshield layers. The telescopic mid-booms sequentially push out from the spacecraft bus perpendicular to the telescope line of sight, pulling the folded stack of sunshield layers out into the ultimate, however nonetheless untensioned, configuration. Lastly, every sunshield layer is tensioned into place, beginning with the Solar-facing layer first and ending with the telescope-facing layer. The deployed sunshield begins a fast cooldown of the telescope and the science devices, however on-board heaters throughout the science devices might be used to manage their cooldown and forestall contamination.

“Whereas these steps have been examined on the bottom and operationally rehearsed within the Mission Operations Middle, these vital actions should be executed for a profitable mission. Greatest needs to our workforce, and keep cool, Webb!”

– Michael McElwain, Webb observatory venture scientist, NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Middle



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