NASA’s Webb Space Telescope Continues Multi-Instrument Alignment

This animation shows the path light will follow as it hits the primary James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) mirror, and is reflected to the secondary, and then in through the aft optics assembly where the tertiary and fine steering mirrors are. The light is then reflected and split and directed to the science instruments by pick-off mirrors. JWST is a three-mirror anastigmat telescope. Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

While telescope alignment continues, Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) is still in cooldown mode. MIRI, which will be the coldest of Webb’s four instruments, is the only instrument that will be actively cooled by a cryogenic refrigerator, or cryocooler. This cryocooler uses helium gas to carry heat from MIRI’s optics and detectors out to the warm side of the sunshield. To manage the cooldown process, MIRI also has heaters onboard, to protect its sensitive components from the risk of ice forming. The Webb team has begun gradually adjusting both the cryocooler and these heaters, to ensure a slow, controlled, stable cooldown for the instrument. Soon, the team will turn off MIRI’s heaters entirely, to bring the instrument down to its operating temperature of less than 7 kelvins (-447 degrees[{” attribute=””>Fahrenheit, or -266 degrees (function(d, s, id){ var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

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