The largest and most advanced space observatory ever created in history is finally floating in the cosmos to unravel the mysteries about the creation of the universe. The James Webb Telescope has successfully undergone major deployments that were part of the 1.5 million kilometre journey from the Earth. Now, the James Webb Telescope is going through the next phase of the mission, i.e., the period of cooldown. As the team manoeuvring the biggest telescope ever created is breathing a little easier, the telescope, too, will relax for a while and float without any major deployment and alterations in the structure.
What is The Period of Cooldown?
The James Webb telescope is divided into two sides – one that is facing the Sun and a cold side. While the hot side, the one facing the Sun, will function at temperatures notch below the boiling temperature, the cool side will function somewhere around -233 degrees Celsius. The time that the telescope will require to reach such temperatures is being termed as ‘Period of Cooldown.’
You’re hot and you’re cold… 🎵#NASAWebb is split into a “hot side” and “cold side” by its sunshield. The sunshield will always be facing the Sun to block out heat and light, as Webb’s mirrors need to stay extremely cold to observe faint heat signals in the universe! pic.twitter.com/GciNPo04nr— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) December 29, 2021
Why Is Cooling Down Important?
While the sun shield helps bring down the temperatures efficiently, further cooling will be slower until it reaches the required temperatures. The cold temperatures are important so that it detects the faint heat signals from the infrared waves coming from deep outer space. These signals will further assist the telescope in sending the first-ever image from the old universe.
What Lies After The Period of Cooldown?
As the James Webb Telescope reaches the required temperatures, the tiny motors attached to the primary and secondary mirror of the telescope will align the 18 segments that it is divided into. The alignment of these segments will result in a systematic optical function.
These motors are so intricately designed that adjustments even 1/10,000th the size of human hair can be made. The entire process will take more than 5 months before the James Webb Telescope sends its first image.