James Webb Space Telescope has locked onto guide star in crucial milestone

  1. I haven't been this invested in anything NASA since Curiosity. Funny enough, my daughter that's into math and wants to work at NASA was born the same year I was obsessed with that little robot that could.

  2. Yes, I was worried there'd essentially be silence and then several months later the first scientific work. I'm happy they release these geeky updates because they mean a lot while waiting for it to do actual work. Most importantly, it's consistent reassurances that everything is so far going to plan.

  3. After seeing the most recent launch failure this morning, hearing news of jwst blows my fucking mind every time it comes up. So proud of all countries contributing

  4. Just curious because I’m by nature a pessimist: do they have estimated risks of failure modes along the deployment progression? Would be cool to see the odds of getting to where it is now and from now to completion

  5. So what is the actual delay in commands from earth to the jwst? If a tech sends the command to adjust one mirror my .5 degrees how long does it take for the command to reach the telescope, adjust, and send the response back to earth?

  6. Well, light speed is 300,000km/s. JWST is roughly 1.5 million km away. So we divide 1,500,000 by 300,000 and we get 5. It takes about 5 seconds for commands to be sent and received. How long it takes to execute that command depends on how simple/complicated the command is. And it will take another 5s to return info to earth.

  7. Each individual mirror can move at roughly the rate of grass growing. So, these mirrors have all been adjusting round the clock for several weeks.

  8. Like sailors in ancient times, transcontinental airplanes before Gps and Apollo spacecrafts coasting to the moon, JWST tracks his position using the stars. Cheers to generations of astronomers and mathematicians who made this possible.

  9. Military weapons like ICBMs and hyper sonic missiles to this day still use stars to track their position as gps can be destroyed or disabled.

  10. While this is obviously a very highly sophisticated piece of equipment, when I would hear of the overruns and final cost I kept thinking "how the hell is this thing gonna be worth 10 BB?", but the more I see how insanely complicated it is, it almost sounds like it was a steal at that price. Hopefully everything continues well with the final preparations.

  11. $10 billion sounds like a lot but it helps to put a that amount into perspective against what the US actually spends in a single year.

  12. JWST is extremely expensive for what it is. Years of delays will do that. But I'm glad we finally got this thing up in the air. Now we'll see things we never saw before, and the development budget has been freed up for other interesting missions as well. Win-win!

  13. Also keep in mind that money didn't really just "go to space". It was spent and invested in Earth, paying researchers, engineers, improving technologies, etc. The "worth" of the satellite is in more than the images it will take.

  14. You will not find a bigger JWST fan than me. Having said tht, it is not worth ten billion dollars. It COST ten billion dollars. This is largely due contracting companies like Lockheed milking the fuck out of the government. They have it down to an art form at this point. I work in government and see it happen everyday.

  15. Honestly 10billion seems like a pretty good deal for a project that has taken 20 years and pushes the forefront of engineering, science and technology. That's like roughly $2billion a year... and if you were to divide that by the number of american citizens (330million) you get roughly $6 per person per year. Obviously not super accurate from my generalizations but still. It's cheap as fuck on a national level.

  16. Don’t just look at it as the cost of the telescope, it was the cost of the technology that had to be developed to build the telescope. That’s $10B worth of problems that are now solved. This isn’t just an investment in the JWST, but the next generation of space telescopes and spacecraft to come.

  17. To put 10B in perspective. That's just the flex in the dod budget. Or half the amount the army expects to spend on hololens. This is a much better value.

  18. Sorry, that actually stands for ‘James Webb Backup Telescope’. If the original fails, they’re launching your Volkswagen into orbit.

  19. for whatever reason I think this is awesome and that it actually gives James Webb the support and positivity it needs!

  20. with how wonky bluetooth can get i fully expect ur phone to connect to the telescope instead of the car's device

  21. This may be a dumb/obvious question but, how much do they have to account for the fact that we (i.e. our solar system, galaxy, etc) are constantly moving when pointing the telescope to things so far away? Or is it not really a huge factor?

  22. Only something you'd need to compensate for if you were looking at it for a long long time. The local stars are moving with us

  23. Yes it’s hella important, I guess it’s a perspective issue as to what the threshold of huge consideration. But yeah when a really powerful telescope is commissioned to study something, it will usually point at it for a pretty long time. It will have to look at that exact spot while the earth spins and a computer has to line up the verticy really really really accurately. That computer needs to rotate on multiple axies over the course of a day and a lens needs to warp automatically to compensate for the density of the atmosphere interfering with the emr.

  24. Side note: I really enjoy the plethora of ad space being broken up by a bit of article here and there. I mean, honestly, I'm trying to buy something, y'know?

  25. Were there any ads in the article ? Never noticed them on mobile. Don't know if I'm just getting really good at ignoring them or a simple plugin I added to my browser years ago did.

  26. Hey, there's a reason it was massively delayed from its original launch date. The JWST was built and launched with humanity's maximum caution.

  27. As an amateur astronomer, I always feel a sense of joy when my rig starts guiding successfully because it doesn’t always work flawlessly. I can only imagine how awesome it feels for the guys running this thing.

  28. It will take a bit of time to cool off enough so its own heat doesn't "fog up" the photos. That first star photo they released had a bunch of artifacts in it caused by the heat of the telescope radiating its own infrared light into the picture.

  29. Reading about the AMAZING (yes, shout it from the rooftop) Webb project offers us all a needed, wonderful respite from all of the crappy international news. So happy for the entire Webb Telescope team - moving forward so we can see backwards (in time)! 😀

  30. I work what is ultimately a really humdrum job as tier one tech support for nasa. Once or twice a week though I get to talk to someone who’s working on the JWST and it really helps get me through the bad days.

  31. It's kind of complicated. We can already see remnants of the Big Bang and the beginning of time with our current telescopes, but the JWST will look at the formation of the first solar systems and the first moments after the Big Bang in greater detail.

  32. Potentially unrelated topic - what goes into focusing the mirrors? I get that each needs to be adjusted to have the same focal point, but do they also need to have individual mirror curvature adjustments?

  33. Each of the mirror segments has 6 degrees of motion control (x, y, z, roll, pitch, yaw) plus curvature adjustment each with a precision of a few nanometers.

  34. The mirror segments do have an actuator that can change their curvature. I believe each segment has 7 motors, 6 for position and one for the curve. Tha actuators themselves are pretty cool as this video details how they work

  35. Is it strange at all that this is legitimately the only thing that has excited me in months? I have no doubt I won't be able to comprehend the images James brings back and I can't wait to break my mind

  36. Does JWST stay locked to this one star for its duration or is it only on this star for now (either for calibration purposes or its first target)?

  37. It’s still cooling??? I would have thought any heat on this thing would have been lost to space pretty quickly. Can anyone shed light on this?

  38. Going from memory but because there is no medium to easily shed the heat (the atmosphere here on earth for example) it is actually kinda hard to dissipate heat. If I am wrong I am sure someone will correct me and insult me in the process, lol.

  39. Another aspect of cooling by radiation (the only method available in a vacuum), is that, roughly speaking, the heat energy radiated by an object is proportional to its temperature to the fourth power.

  40. These updates are working perfectly and keeping me on the edge of my seat. Can’t wait for first image or better yet when they start pointing it at exo planets and we’re going to see atmospheric compositions! How incredible and what I time to be alive!

  41. How much of the adjustment is automated and how much does it require manual input to confirm or adjust the mirrors?

  42. The world seems kinda screwed up right now. News like this helps. And SpaceX, they keep launching and launching. So much that it's not news anymore. A new DST, like nothing the world has ever seen before. And it's not front page news.

  43. In a world crippled by COVID, inequality and war on the horizon this is the only glimmer of hope and excitement. Can’t wait for the first pictures to roll out

  44. what if the first image inspired people to lay down their arms, look upwards and sparks a new age of knowledge? wishful thinking, but…

  45. Canada to the rescue! The Canadarm on the Space Shuttles was legendary for its performance, and hopefully the Fine Guidance Sensor will have an equally successful life.

  46. It does see a wider light spectrum than visible light with its focus on infrared, so we will probably see a lot of new things. For instance the infrared sensors can see through dust clouds much easier.

  47. It should be powerful enough to analyze atmospheric compositions at least, and if you do this you have come a long way, at least comparatively speaking to what we've had before!

  48. With spectroscopy it’s actually very possible. At least finding chemicals that are not found in nature at the quantities expected.

  49. We don't know what to look for if we wanted to look for an alien civilization. Even if the Webb happened to observe something that could be interpreted as an alien civilization, we would have no way of being able to come up with that interpretation or confirming that interpretation.

  50. Yes. Guide stars are used during all or most observations. They are point sources used to make sure the scope is holding very still while the cameras are operating. They are also needed to help measure very tiny "dithers" (small changes in pointing direction) used to help reduce noise when several images are combined.

  51. Well, if that happens, we should still know about it. Only thing worse than seeing an alien threat from millions of light-years away is seeing an alien threat enter our atmosphere with no warning.

  52. Correct me if I am wrong but doesn't it take up to 6 months in the final orbit to get to the 270 degree below Celsius mark for the telescope to operate it's experiments.

  53. Yes but the JWST can only look about ~5 seconds into the past when viewing Earth since it's not that far away from us.

  54. I absolutely love how we here on earth use the same concept of guiding for astrophotography. For some reason I expected NASA to use a much more sophisticated way of tracking. I know it obviously is not the exact same but the concept is similar.

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