"Event" delays the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope-BBC News

2021-11-25 09:35:31 By : Mr. Mark Chen

Jonathan Amos Science Correspondent @BBCAmoson Twitter

The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope was delayed for at least four days to allow more inspections.

It was originally scheduled to be sent into orbit on December 18, and it is now launched no earlier than the 22nd of this month.

A statement from NASA said that an "event" occurred during preparations for launch that caused the observatory to vibrate suddenly.

NASA added that it will confirm a definite date for the use of the Ariane rocket after the investigation.

JWST is the successor to the vintage Hubble Telescope worth 10 billion U.S. dollars (7.5 billion pounds; 9 billion euros). It was designed to observe the universe more deeply than its predecessor, so it can be traced back to a much longer time-more than 13.5 billion years ago. The goal is to see the first stars that illuminate the universe.

Scientists also hope to use its more advanced capabilities to study the atmospheres of distant planets in order to find signs of life.

Weber is currently at the European Kuru Spaceport in French Guiana.

The engineer there was connecting the telescope to its launch adapter — a large ring that held it to the top of the rocket — when a retaining clip accidentally popped out.

What is worrying is that the event will send a severe mechanical shock through the telescope.

The NASA statement read: "An anomaly review committee led by NASA was immediately convened to investigate and conduct additional tests to determine that the incident did not damage any components. NASA and its mission partners will An update will be provided this weekend after the test is complete."

Dr. Thomas Zubchen, NASA’s director of science, said the sensors usually installed on the telescope have been removed during transportation.

"Just to be cautious, what we did... [return] a few subsystems and perform functional tests to ensure that nothing happens when this energy enters [the telescope]," he told reporters.

"When you work on a telescope worth $10 billion, conservatism is a priority."

The telescope is considered sturdy. When its Ariane rocket climbs from the launch pad, it can withstand severe vibrations and noise.

Part of Webb's development testing even involves placing it on a table and vibrating at high frequencies.

There is a control room next to the clean room where the engineer held Webb in Kuru. All systems of the observatory are connected to the monitoring computer in this room. Therefore, the functional check of the subsystem is quite simple.

Weber's preparations in Kuru are progressing well. It is even ahead of schedule. If the current investigation does not find any problems, the engineers will continue to refuel the telescope and then lift it to the top of the Ariane vehicle about a week before launching to the launch pad.

JWST is a joint project between NASA and European and Canadian space agencies.

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