After three decades of work and billions of dollars spent, we are finally approaching the long-awaited moment, the moment when the James Webb Space Telescope will finally be able to reveal certain secrets of the Universe. According to a NASA statement, the space observatory is indeed being lit after reaching its working position.
Recently, Webb was able to reach his final destination which is the second Lagrange Point or L2. At this location, the telescope has the Earth between it and the Sun all the time, a necessary condition to protect itself as much as possible from the solar rays which can increase the temperature.
Currently, scientists from the US space agency are preparing to turn on the telescope’s various scientific instruments. However, the step following this process will not immediately be the observation of distant cosmic objects, it will still take months to calibrate the instruments and align the mirrors.
Lower the temperature
Within the framework of the preparation of scientific instruments, there is an absolutely necessary condition to expect to be able to obtain good results from Webb. The temperature must be lowered, that is to say, all sources of heat must be neutralized.
According to the information, extremely low temperatures will be required for the instruments to function properly. For example, there is the Mid-Infrared Instrument which was designed to observe the middle of the infrared spectrum at a temperature of 6 Kelvin, or -267.15°C.
As hot objects emit infrared light, this could create interference during observations.
Adjusting the main mirror segments
Apart from neutralizing the heat sources, the telescope will also need to align the 18 elements of its main mirror. These 18 segments will indeed have to work like a single giant mirror in order to be able to correctly capture the signals coming from distant cosmic objects. It will only be after these months of adjustments that we will finally be able to obtain the first data collected by the space observatory.
In any case, after all the time it took for Webb to end up in space, scientists and space exploration fans can certainly wait a few more months.